Common Drugs for Herpes: Their Actions and Side Effects

Herpes is an infection that can manifest as oral herpes (HSV-1) or genital herpes (HSV-2). In both of these two main types of herpes simplex viruses (HSV), the sores that develop are unsightly and painful. There is another type of herpes, known as herpes zoster which is the cause of shingles and chickenpox. There is no cure for herpes making it a chronic condition. Once a person is infected with HSV, it remains in the body for the rest of their lives. Although HSV is incurable, there are treatments to suppress the virus and make outbreaks less frequent.

Before an outbreak, many infected individuals experience prodromal symptoms. These prodromal symptoms usually occur three to four days before an outbreak. Symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling and itching. HSV outbreaks can occur once or twice a week while others may only have several outbreaks a year. When one is first infected with HSV, the outbreaks are more frequent during this initial period. After carrying herpes for a long period, outbreaks begin to appear less frequently and with less severely.

Various Treatment Options for HSV

One of the most common treatments for herpes simplex virus is anti-viral medications. Treatment is not a cure for herpes rather a way to make life as normal as possible. The three main drugs used are; acyclovir also known as Zovirax, valacyclovir also known as Valtrex and famciclovir also known as Famvir. All of these are prescribed to the infected individual in the form of a pill. There are a few severe herpes cases where intravenous (IV) acyclovir or Zovirax may be administered.

Acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir are all effective treatment options for HSV. However, valacyclovir and famciclovir are easier for the stomach to absorb. These two medications do not have to be taken as frequently as acyclovir. Herpes in newborn babies is treated with IV acyclovir. Anti-viral medications work by stopping the virus from continuing to grow.

Side Effects of Anti-Viral Medications

Like most all medications, anti-viral medicines may have some side effects. Some people will suffer from side effects while others may have only minimal or even no side effects. Pharmacists will generally provide literature about each medication, and discuss with the person all the risks, as well as answer any questions one might have. Some of the following side effects may be possible:

  • Trouble breathing or seizures while taking anti-viral’s; one should seek immediate medical attention in these cases.
  • Feeling dizzy or faint, have a rapid heartbeat, confusion or experience a change in their vision; one should consult their physician if such side effects are experienced while taking anti-viral’s.
  • Some of the most common side effects may include headaches, diarrhea, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Herbal and Homeopathic Treatment

Alternatives to anti-viral drugs are herbal and homeopathic medicines. These medicines come in tablet, liquid, jelly and cream form. Some are applied directly to the affected area while others are ingested. Since there is no cure for herpes, treatment involves suppressing the virus and making symptoms less severe and less frequent.

Certain herbal supplements can have adverse side effects because they affect the body’s chemistry. Please consult your doctor before purchasing just any herbal treatments for herpes. There are good herbal products that can help to suppress and treat herpes symptoms.

Homeopathic products are much safer as they do not have any known side effects and help to suppress symptoms as well as boost the immune system. Getting the correct homeopathic medicine is the trick. One can either speak to a homeopath who will recommend a suitable singular remedy suited specifically for that person or research complex remedies that are successful in treating herpes outbreaks.

Those with herpes simplex virus type-1 or type-2 should never have sexual contact with another person during an outbreak. This is the most contagious period of the virus. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. Oral herpes can produce genital herpes when oral sex is performed by an infected person.

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