Right now, there is no cure or vaccines for the herpes simplex virus. Though, avoiding precipitating factors, like sunburns and stress, can help prevent you from getting additional outbreaks. There are also established treatments that can help decrease the healing time, reduce the pain associated with the lesion, and in some cases, stop the recurrence of the virus.
Prescription-strength topical medications: Treatment with topical acyclovir (Zovirax 5% cream) or penciclovir (Denavir 1% cream) will reduce healing time by about 12 hours and will decrease the pain associated with the lesion. Topical treatment is limited in its effectiveness due to it having poor penetration at the site of the replication of the virus, so it’s restricted in its healing ability. Acyclovir cream needs to be applied five times each day for four days, and penciclovir cream needs to be applied every two hours when awake for four days. In August 2009, the FDA approved a cream containing acyclovir and a topical steroid, which will reduce the healing time by about a day.
Oral prescription-strength medications: Right now, the FDA-approved oral antiviral medications used in the treatment of herpes simplex virus in adults are valacyclovir (Valtrex), acyclovir, and famciclovir (Famvir). Famciclovir hasn’t been tested in children with cold sores. These oral medications decrease the duration of the outbreak, especially when they are started during the prodrome (The symptom onset before the actual condition becomes fully evident). The medications have few side effects and are generally well tolerated. Most common side effects include headache, nausea, and diarrhea. Treatment is just for one day with valacyclovir and famciclovir. Valacyclovir is given as 2 grams orally every twice a day for only one day, and famciclovir is given as 1,500 milligrams orally for a one dose. Acyclovir is given as 400 mg orally forfive days, five times per day. Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are relatively safe and effective when used during pregnancy, though topical treatment is recommended when appropriate. Acyclovir and valacyclovir have been used while breastfeeding. Though, pregnant women and nursing mothers need to check with their physician or pharmacist before they use any medication. People who get over two outbreaks in four months, which significantly affect their daily lives, should think of chronic suppressive therapy. The FDA has approved the use of oral valacyclovir daily to stop the recurrence of the herpes simplex virus in people with normal immune systems and famciclovir in people who have suppressed immune systems.
Other treatment options: lactobacillus acidophilus and bulgaricus, citrus bioflavonoids, Lysine supplements, and vitamins C, E, and B12 have been identified as potential treatments for herpes simplex virus. Though, there is no good clinical evidence yet to support these treatments, and they are not suggested.