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How are recurring episodes of herpes treated ?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 336 Questions
I have had genital herpes for almost 8 years and no matter what prescribed medication I take or what supplements I use with exercise and a good diet symptoms never go away. I am becoming increasingly depressed over my condition and at a loss. Can you please tell me what may be happening to me, if this does indeed happen to other people, what else it could be, what I should do. Should I see a dermatologist or my primary care physician.
Posted Wed, 11 Apr 2012 in Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 58 minutes later

Thanks for the query.

It seems that you are indeed having recurrent episodes of Genital Herpes.

Once infected with the Herpes virus, it can infect you for life as it attains a latent phase in the cranial nerve ganglions and causes recurrent episodes due to reactivation of the virus.

When the herpes virus reactivates, it travels down nerve fibers to the skin producing Sores, Bumps, or Redness along with burning, itching, and pain in the affected area. The frequency and severity of recurrent Genital Herpes outbreaks can vary. The average number of outbreaks is 4 to 5 a year.

There are some trigger factors that may cause the Genital Herpes virus to reactivate. These Trigger factors vary from person to person and usually can't be avoided.

Some triggers are believed to be:
1. Emotional stress
2. Physical stress
3. Injury
4. Sunlight
5. Another illness (especially with fever)
6. Surgical trauma
7. Poor diet

Managing and reducing such trigger factors may help to reduce the severity and frequency of recurrences.

Recurrences tend to be less severe and shorter than the first episode. It is more usual to have 7-10 days of symptoms with a recurrence, unlike the 10-20 days of symptoms that may occur during the first episode.

Antiviral medications to treat recurrent herpes are effective at reducing the symptoms if they are started within 6 hours of either symptom onset or lesion appearance and are able to stop or shorten an outbreak with just a single day of treatment. If started after 6 hours of onset, the treatment may not be effective.

In addition to the antiviral medication that you are on the symptoms can be reduced by medications like antidepressents, gabapentin or duloxetine, which help to relieve the neuropathic pain caused by the herpes infection.

You might consult your prescribe the required medications.

I hope this helps to answer your questions. Please feel free to consult me for any doubts or other medical questions.


Dr. Anvekar.
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