The herpes simplex viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2, cause sores in specific areas of the body, depending on which type of herpes it is. While herpes cannot be cured, there are many different treatments for herpes.
Herpes simplex virus 1 is the more common of the two types and it causes cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth. HSV-1 can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, usually in the form of kissing, or by sharing cups, toothbrushes, and other objects that touch the mouth area.
Herpes simplex virus 2 causes sores around the genital region and is primarily spread by sexual contact. Condoms can provide some form of protection but since condoms do not cover the entire genital and anal region, they cannot be relied upon to protect a herpes-free partner from an infected partner. Other forms of birth control do nothing to prevent the spread of herpes.
It is important to know that both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be spread both when sores are present and also when they are not present. It is therefore imperative to be tested for herpes regularly if you are sexually active and discuss STD testing and outcomes with new partners.
One treatment for herpes is oral medication. There are medications that your doctor can prescribe that will lessen the extent of outbreaks. When you sense an outbreak is beginning, you will take the medication, referred to as intermittent medication, for two to five days. The medication may prevent a looming outbreak or shorten the time of an outbreak.
If you suffer from frequent outbreaks, your doctor may prescribe a suppressive treatment. A suppressive treatment is an anti-viral drug that you will take every day. Suppressive treatments can reduce your annual number of outbreaks by 70%-80%. In some cases, taking a suppressive treatment may reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to a partner. However, you should not rely completely on a suppressive treatment to avoid transmission.
While there is no cure for HSV-1 or HSV-2, there are many forms of treatment that can help lessen the extent of outbreaks and, in some cases, even prevent outbreaks. A board-certified dermatologist like those at Dermatologic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery can properly diagnose herpes simplex viruses and chart a course of treatment for patients.