6 best herpes medications 2021


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Herpes is unpleasant and, unfortunately, very common. “Up to 80% of the U.S. population. herp (HSV) circulating in your blood that it means they’ve been personally exposed to the HSV virus. You may have these antibodies, but you will never actually have a herpetic ulcer on your skin. “Approximately 20 to 40 percent of the population will develop at least one injury in their lifetime,” says Zippora Scheinhaus, MD, FAAD, a Board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills.

HSV is a virus that causes herpes. Once exposed, small amounts of the virus can enter the skin, blood, and other body fluids, with or without an active injury. And when you really have active herpes. it’s highly contagious. 

The main thing is to be active in your treatment. “Many people have a prodromal period just before they develop an ulcer,” says Dr. Sheinhouse. “You may feel pain, itching, tingling up to a day before the pain develops. These symptoms are related to viral replication and nerve irritation. This prodrom is the time for treatment with oral medications to prevent the development of ulcers. If you can catch it early, hopefully you can prevent blisters or at least reduce the severity and Duration of the episode.” 

“The wound itself may at first resemble a small grain that then grows, often begins to release a clear liquid and forms a crust. Healing can take one to two weeks. It is very contagious as long as it is wet / crusty.”

Here are the best herpes treatments on the market.

Final Verdict

As the only over-the-counter drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of herpes with the active ingredient Docosanol, Abreva Docosanol Cream 10 % (view on Amazon) blocks the virus that causes herpes and relieves unpleasant symptoms. But, if your goal is to avoid clutter and discomfort, consider the Compeed herpes patch (view on Amazon). These protective covers provide relief and prevent the contagious virus from spreading as it heals.

What to look for in a cold cure


Herpes medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are based on a variety of different active ingredients that provide relief and healing, according to Dr. Scheinhaus. There are drying agents (Domborough solution, calamine lotion, zinc oxide, hazel) which, when applied to the wound, help dry the blister and its liquid. Topical steroids or anti-inflammatory cream (hydrocortisone) can be applied several times a day to reduce pain, itching, redness and inflammation. They provide comfort and can be used with antiviral medications. Prescription topical antiviral creams can reduce the severity and Duration of cold sores. The most effective are penciclovir and acyclovir, and should be started as soon as possible at the first signs of prodroma, according to Dr. Scheinhaus.

Another option is local anesthetics, such as prescription lidocaine or over-the-counter benzocaine, which are available in the form of mouthwashes, creams, and ointments. They can be applied to the wound up to three times a day as needed for topical pain relief. Dr. Sheinhouse recommends applying them before eating, especially if the wound makes eating too painful.


Herpes relief manifests itself in many different forms. There are oral medications and topical options, as well as devices and patches that block the virus that causes herpes and treat symptoms.

Local over-the-counter cream (Abram) did not show significant efficacy in medical research, according to Dr. Sheinhaus. “One study suggests that this may reduce the total time of a herpes episode by 18 hours.” 

Topical barrier gels and ointments help reduce discomfort while the wound heals. “They act as a barrier against external stimuli (food, drinks, conversations) and may contain bacteria that can cause a secondary infection in the viral ulcer. Try vaseline, aquafor, hygienic lipstick (do not dip twice and store a wand / jar only for herpes!). Local hydropropylcellulose attaches to the lesion to avoid irritants (Zylactin and Ziladent is sold without a prescription), according to Dr. Sheinhaus.

Some medications, such as Abreva, can also help herpes heal faster if used as soon as you feel herpes is developing. Abreva works by helping to prevent the spread of the herpes virus to healthy skin cells. – Jin Lin, MD, pediatric dentist at Hearst pediatric dentistry

Frequently asked questions

  • Herpes and ulcers are two different things and therefore the treatment for both is different.

    “Herpes are blisters caused by the herpes virus that often form around the lips, although they can also form on the gums or palate. Once the blister bursts, a scab forms,” explains Jin Lin, MD, a pediatric dentist at Hearst pediatric dentistry

    “Ulcers, on the other hand, are small sores that appear in the mouth, often on the inside of the cheeks or lips,” he continues. “They usually have a white, yellow or grayish center and a red border. The exact cause of peptic ulcer is unknown, but common triggers include stress and soft tissue injuries in the oral cavity, for example, if you bite the inside of the cheek.” 

    Most medicines intended to treat herpes are antiviral medicines to stop the reproduction of the herpes virus. This means they will not work with ulcers where there are no viruses. 

    In addition, it says Chris Airy. MD, medical director Optima. “most herpes medications you can buy over-the-counter are not intended for ingestion and are for topical use.” Therefore, you cannot apply them inside your mouth. One notable exception is Zilactin, which is safe for the mouth. Its active ingredient is benzyl alcohol, which helps cushion the pain of ulcers and herpes, although it does not treat herpes in the same way it abrupts.

  • It depends on the medication, so it’s best for a pregnant person to take all of their medications through an OB / GYN. 

    However, “Abreva, Zovirax, and Valtrex (two prescription herpes options) are considered safe for pregnant patients,” says Todd Minars, a dermatologist at dermatology Minars. “The food and drug administration did not specifically evaluate the products for use by pregnant patients [but] a study was conducted to suggest that they were more likely to be safe.” 

    In addition, she adds,”once a parent passes the 36th week of pregnancy, these antiviral medications are less of a concern to the developing baby.”

  • “It depends on the patient, their history of colds and medications,” Minars says. But in general, over-the-counter topical creams should improve the condition somewhere between 72 hours and four days later. Sometimes, however, it can take a week or more. But in general, your over-the-counter medications should speed your recovery by two to three days. 

    However, according to Airy ,” sometimes taking medication at the first sign of herpes can prevent an outbreak altogether.”  

    Also, although healing takes time, some topical treatments can reduce your pain in just a few minutes, making you feel better, even if the herpes hasn’t gone away.

Why Trust Medication information?

As an expert health writer, Jennifer White understand how important quality product recommendations are to treat symptoms safely and effectively at home. For over 10 years, you’ve studied products, interviewed experts, carefully studied ingredients, and studied scientific research and claims to help readers like you understand what fits their specific conditions. Each product in this article was selected based on doctors ‘ recommendations, published research, and actual feedback from buyers.

Additional feature to this story by Simone Scully

Simone Scully – new York City-based writer and Editor with years of experience writing articles on health, wellness, science and lifestyle. Her signature has appeared in Healthline magazine, well+Good, Narrative, mamluk, motherifigure’s Magazine, Nautilus, Narrative, AskMen and elsewhere.

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