Right now, there is no cure or vaccine for the herpes simplex virus. Though, avoiding precipitating factors, like a sunburn and stress, can keep additional outbreaks from occurring. There are alsp established treatments available that can help decrease the healing time, reduce the pain created from the lesion, and in some specific cases, stop the recurrence of the virus.
Nondrug therapy: Regular hand washing will help reduce the spread of the virus to other parts of the body and to other people. And, applying cool, moist compresses to the lesion can decrease the pain and keep the lesion from drying and cracking.
Over-the-counter (OTC) topical medications: Most of the topical OTC products only give symptomatic relief; they don’t decrease the healing time. Using topical anesthetics that contain lidocaine (0.5%-4%), tetracaine (2%), benzocaine (5%-20%), or dibucaine (0.25%-1%) will help relieve the itching, burning, and pain. Recommended products are Lipactin gel and Zilactin. It’s important to remember that these topical anesthetics got a short duration of action, lasting only about 20-30 minutes. Skin protectants, like allantoin, petrolatum, and dimethicone-containing products help keep the lesion moist and stops the cracking of the lesion. Sunscreen-containing lip balms can also help prevent additional outbreaks from occurring if the sun is part of the factor. For more pain relief, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help. These products need to be used according to the package directions. Docosanol 10% cream (Abreva) is the only OTC topical product that will decrease the healing time when it’s applied at the first sign of recurrence (the prodrome or tingling sensation, for example). Docosanol get’s applied five times each day until the lesion’s healed. Side effects can include rash and itching at the location of the application.