Herpes is an incurable viral infection that can be managed with over-the-counter and prescription medications. MayoClinic.com suggests that some medications can significantly reduce the frequency and duration of outbreaks. Medications available without a prescription should only be used as directed. The American Social Health Association warns against using any over-the-counter medications to treat genital herpes. Prescription medications, oral pain relievers like ibuprofen, or cool compresses are safe ways to manage genital herpes pain.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Docosanol cream is the only FDA-approved, over-the-counter medication safe and effective for treating oral herpes according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 1. This medication works similarly to several prescription drugs by shortening the duration of the outbreak. The cream works best when applied at the very earliest sign of an outbreak, called the prodrome stage. Prodromes, or warning signs, of herpes include tingling, itching and tenderness. For maximum results, the cream is applied five times per day until the outbreak appears prevented or clears up entirely.
- Docosanol cream is the only FDA-approved, over-the-counter medication safe and effective for treating oral herpes according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 1.
- For maximum results, the cream is applied five times per day until the outbreak appears prevented or clears up entirely.
Joint Pain from Herpes
Topical anesthetic products offer temporary pain relief from the symptoms of oral herpes. While these medications may be effective in managing pain, they will not speed healing time or prevent future outbreaks. Benzocaine topical gel is one type of over-the-counter pain-reliever that can be used to manage herpes pain. This medication should not be used on genital herpes. Benzocaine topical works by blocking the nerve signals in the body that communicate pain states Drugs.com 3. This medication should be used in small amounts up to four times per day. Similar products include those made with lidocaine or tetracaine, two anesthetics that also block nerve signals. Topical anesthetics should be used only as directed.
- Topical anesthetic products offer temporary pain relief from the symptoms of oral herpes.
- Benzocaine topical gel is one type of over-the-counter pain-reliever that can be used to manage herpes pain.
Camphor is a type of topical pain reliever. It can be found alone or in combination with other medicines marketed as lip or blister treatments. One type of lip medication, Blistex, contains camphor, phenol and allantoin. Drugs.com explains that this combination can relieve pain, itching and severe dryness. Like other over-the-counter medicines, camphor products have no effect on the virus itself.
- Camphor is a type of topical pain reliever.
- One type of lip medication, Blistex, contains camphor, phenol and allantoin.
Joint Pain from Herpes
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Jock Itch Creams
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Herpes Simplex - Treatment for Oral Herpes
- Drugs.com: Anbesol Gel
- Drugs.com: Blistex (topical)
- McQuillan G, Kruszon-Moran D, Flagg EW, Paulose-Ram R. Prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in persons aged 14–49: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief. 2018;304.
- Tronstein E. Genital Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus Among Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Persons With HSV-2 Infection. JAMA. 2011;305(14):1441. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.420
- World Health Organization (WHO). Herpes simplex virus. Updated January 31, 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Updated January 31, 2017
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet. Updated August 28, 2017.
- Chun H, Carpenter R, Macalino G, Crum-Cianflone NF. The role of sexually transmitted infections in HIV-1 progression: A comprehensive review of the literature. Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2012;2013(176459):1-15. doi:10.1155/2013/176459
- Heslop R, Roberts H, Flower D, Jordan V. Interventions for men and women with their first episode of genital herpes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Aug 30;(8):CD010684. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010684.pub2
- Jin F, Prestage GP, Mao L, Kippax SC, Pell CM, et al. Transmission of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 in a prospective cohort of HIV-negative gay men: the health in men study. J Infect Dis. 2006 Sep 1;194(5):561-70.
- Schulte JM, Bellamy AR, Hook EW 3rd, Bernstein DI, Levin MJ, et al. HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence in the united states among asymptomatic women unaware of any herpes simplex virus infection (Herpevac Trial for Women). South Med J. 2014 Feb;107(2):79-84. doi:10.1097/SMJ.0000000000000062
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.