How is Genital Herpes treated?

While in the midst of an outbreak, avoid contact with the affected area as much as possible and be sure to wash your hands after touching it. Do not have sex until you are completely clear of symptoms. Additionally, your doctor may recommend an antiviral medication:

  • Zovirax
  • Famvir
  • Valtrex

These medications help to control your symptoms and prevent recurrences. Additionally, they provide some measure of protection for your sexual partners.

Get tested for Genital Herpes (HSV-2)

Genital herpes does not generally cause other problems. However, it does increase your risk of contracting other STDs including HIV. Act immediately and get tested today!

Get tested for STDs today

Recovery Time

The initial outbreak of genital herpes can last over 20 days. However, recovery from subsequent outbreaks is usually quicker.

Sexual Activity

If you are in the midst of an outbreak, avoid sex, and be sure to correctly use latex condoms at all other times


Recurrences of genital herpes are generally milder than the initial outbreak, and the frequency of outbreaks tends to decrease over time (average is roughly 4 per year). Symptoms during recurrence can be so mild that an infected person is unaware that they are even having an outbreak. Sores tend to be much smaller, if visible at all. Itching and burning are not uncommon during a recurrence but are usually less severe than with the initial outbreak.

Mark Riegel, MD

Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

No. Viruses don't have cures, but symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Type of Infection

Viral. Caused by the herpes simplex virus.

How is it treated?

Antiviral Medicine. Symptoms are treated with antiviral medications (Zovirax, Famvir, or Valtrex), however there is no cure.

Recovery Time

1 month or longer. The symptoms from the initial outbreak can take over 20 days to disappear.

Can I have sex?

Yes. During your initial outbreak, you should refrain from sex until all symptoms are gone.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. Once you get infected, you will have the virus for life.