Genital Herpes Treatment

Genital herpes; at a glance

  • Best Results1-2 sessions
  • Treatment RecoveryNA
  • Procedure TimeNA
  • Skin SpecialistDr Sarath Bodapati at Cutis Dermatology
  • Duration of ResultsVariable
  • AnaestheticNA
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$

About Genital Herpes

This page is aimed at the treatment of genital herpes, primarily in men. Our dermatologists also manage STD in women, at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane.

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in Australia, affecting one in seven adults. For recurrent infections, the use of prophylactic antiviral medications can effectively abort HSV attacks. Common skin conditions that mimic genital herpes include molluscum, contact dermatitis, genital warts & other inflammatory genital disorders. A dermatologist can diagnose & manage initial & recurrent HSV infections.

FactsFacts On Genital Herpes

  • The top five symptoms of herpes include:
  • Pain or itching around the genitals, anus or mouth
  • Small bumps or blisters
  • Painful ulcers due to ruptured blisters
  • Scabs that form as the ulcers heal
  • Painful urination
  • Initial outbreaks can last beyond 4 weeks
  • A dermatologist can diagnose herpes & initiate effective treatments
  • Early treatment will reduce this period to a few days
  • Antivirals provide the fastest & most effective way to kill herpes virus

What are the first signs of herpes infection?

At the onset of infection of the herpes signs and symptoms may not be present. When they
appear, they include-

Tingling, itching, or burning, prior to appearance of a rash. This typically lasts 1-2 days. This
is then followed by the typical findings of herpes.

Sores & blisters. Sores are painful & itchy. Typically small blisters are grouped together,
followed by oozing of clear fluid.

Crusting. Crusts appear on the surface of these sores before healing commences. The first
sores appear between 2 to 15 days after contracting herpes. Sores usually can last 7 to 11
days before they heal. These sores appear in various areas of the body, usually depending on
the type of herpes.

Oral herpes (HSV-1): Blisters usually will appear on the lips or around the mouth. Genital
herpes (HSV-2): with this type of herpes, sores are found on the genitals, buttocks, or anus.

What test is 100% accurate when it comes to diagnosis of herpes?

A dermatologist may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at the rash. In equivocal cases a
viral swab is helpful. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV

How long does the symptoms of herpes last?

For oral herpes around the mouth area, symptoms last for 3 weeks, while in cases of genital
herpes, it lasts between 2 to 5 weeks, in cases of the first outbreak of sores. Early diagnosis & intervention by a dermatologist can markedly clear this infection within a few days, reducing
signs & symptoms of herpes infection.

What is the best treatment for genital herpes?

Antiviral medicines are prescribed by our dermatologists at Cutis Brisbane. They are by far the
fastest & most reliable way of killing the herpes virus. Acyclovir, Famciclovir & Valacyclovir
are commonly prescribed.

The earlier the treatment, the faster the resolution of blisters & sores. Medications taken by an infected person reduces transmission of the virus to an uninfected person. Antiviral creams can be applied, but they are far less effective than tablets.

Disclaimer: I do not manage or treat genital disorders, including herpes. My colleague, Dr Sarath at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane has an interest in male genital dermatology.

What conditions may look like herpes?

Herpes may look like many other types of conditions that affect the genital, anal & oral areas. A
dermatologist can tell the difference in most cases, however a viral swab is diagnostic. Herpes
may look like-

● A different STD such as syphilis, molluscum & genital warts
● Skin irritation & contact dermatitis
● Ingrown hairs & pimples
● Pimples
● Yeast infections
● Bug bites & scabies
● Atypical pearly penile papules or Fordyce spots

Disclaimer: I do not manage or diagnose genital disorders, including herpes. My colleague, Dr Sarath at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane has an interest in male genital dermatology.

What is the outcome of herpes simplex?

For herpes, the initial outbreak is considered the most severe. In others, the outbreaks are
unnoticeable as they can be extremely mild. In cases of such mild outbreaks, people often will
mistake subsequent infections years later for a first outbreak.

The virus could be forever dormant, however for most, the virus becomes active after a while. A second outbreak is termed a recurrence and is more common in the first year after infection.
With time, recurrences tend not to be as severe as the last, and they occur. If you have recurrent outbreaks, a dermatologist can prescribe you prophylactic medications to prevent attacks, or teach you to abort outbreaks should they occur.

Davin’s viewpoint: genital herpes management

Managing genital herpes infection in males involves a combination of medical treatments & lifestyle measures. Here’s a summary of how to manage genital herpes infection in men.

  • Medical therapy:
      • Antiviral Medications: Consult a healthcare professional for prescribed antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir. These medications can help suppress viral replication, reduce outbreak frequency, alleviate symptoms, and lower the risk of transmission. It is by far the most effective way to treat & to prevent infection.
      • Follow the prescribed dosage and treatment duration recommended by your healthcare provider.
      • Promptly start antiviral treatment during outbreaks to reduce their severity and duration. Most patients will understand their initial symptoms prior to recurrent outbreaks &, under guidance by my colleague, initiate antiviral medications to abort attacks. 
  • Prevention:
      • Safe sed: Practice safe sex by using latex or polyurethane condoms correctly and consistently during sexual activity. While condoms may not cover all potentially infected areas, they can reduce the risk of transmission.
      • Communication and Disclosure: Inform sexual partners about your herpes status to enable them to make informed decisions about their own health.
      • Avoid sexual activity during outbreaks or if prodromal symptoms (tingling or itching) are present.
  • Hygiene and Comfort:
      • Keep the genital area clean and dry to prevent secondary infections and promote healing.
      • Gently wash the affected area with mild soap and warm water.
      • Pat the area dry using a clean towel or allow it to air dry.
      • Avoid tight-fitting clothing that can cause irritation and discomfort.
  • General Health and Immune Support:
      • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, sufficient sleep, stress reduction techniques, and a balanced diet. A strong immune system can help manage outbreaks and reduce their frequency. Zinc supplements may have some (marginal) benefits.
      • Minimize stress levels through relaxation techniques, meditation, or seeking support from friends, family, or healthcare professionals.
  • Follow-up and Support:
    • Regularly consult with a healthcare professional to monitor your condition, adjust treatment if necessary, and address any concerns.
    • Seek support from herpes support groups or counseling to cope with the emotional and psychological impact of living with genital herpes.

Remember, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis, treatment plan, and personalized advice on managing genital herpes infection in males.

Disclaimer: I do not manage or treat genital herpes. Occasionally I am involved in providing tertiary advice, but will not be engaged in patient management. My colleague, Dr Sarath at Cutis Dermatology, Brisbane has an interest in male genital dermatology.

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