Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this virus. However, antiviral medications can be used to prevent and treat outbreaks, reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, so they cannot be used to cure genital herpes.
However, antiviral drugs such as Valtrex (valacyclovir) and Zovirax (acyclovir) can help heal herpes sores faster than other options and work to prevent recurrences. When taken daily, these medications can help people stay symptom-free for longer periods of time. Esophagitis is rarely caused by a herpes infection, and the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the risk of transmission from mother to newborn during delivery is low. However, those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe symptoms.
It's important to note that both oral and genital herpes can be spread through sexual contact. Studies have shown that if antiviral medications are started within 48 hours of the appearance of lesions, they can reduce the duration of oral herpes by one or two days. Genital herpes is highly contagious from the first tingling or itching of a new outbreak until the sores have completely healed. To reduce the risk of transmission, it's important to tell your sexual partner that you have this condition and to use a condom during sexual activity.
It's also best to avoid sexual intercourse completely if you have an active outbreak or feel one coming on.