Herpes is an infection that results from either of two types of herpes simplex virus. The symptoms may appear as oral herpes or genital herpes. Currently, there is no cure.
Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) typically causes oral herpes, but may also cause
Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) is a more common cause of genital herpes. A person might acquire HSV-2 through sexual contact.
Infection with HSV is very common. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly
In this article, we look at why there is no cure for herpes, the progress on developing a cure, and the current treatment options.
There is currently
Researchers have conducted several clinical trials investigating vaccines against herpes infection, but there is currently no commercially available vaccine.
Experts suggest that even if antiviral drugs destroy the active parts of the infection, it only takes a small amount of the virus to hide in the nerve cells and become dormant for the herpes virus to continue.
To find a treatment, scientists need to understand further the mechanism that enables the infection to hide. By preventing this mechanism, they might be able to tackle the whole infection before parts go dormant.
Some medications may reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and lower the chances of passing the infection on to others. Current antiviral medications to treat herpes include the following medications:
Acyclovir is typically the
For people with severe infections or less competent immune systems, the doctor may prescribe intravenous (IV) acyclovir. Possible side effects of acyclovir may impact the central nervous system or gastrointestinal tract, which runs from the mouth to the anus.
People with high levels of stress or trauma may experience more
Some home remedies, such as petroleum gel or essential oils, may alleviate the discomfort that herpes lesions cause.
A person can transmit HSV-1 when they have no symptoms. However, it is most contagious during an outbreak.
People with active symptoms must
Those with symptoms of genital herpes must also abstain from sexual activity to prevent the spread of the disease.
People with an HSV-2 infection can transmit genital herpes while experiencing no symptoms. HSV-2 is most contagious during an outbreak of sores.
Pregnant women with symptoms of genital herpes should speak to a doctor, as there is a risk of neonatal herpes.
Neonatal herpes is where a mother passes the infection on to the fetus before, during, or immediately after delivery. It is
Clinical trials are underway to search for an effective treatment. A new drug, called pritelivir, is currently undergoing clinical trials as a treatment for herpes symptoms. Experts believe pritelivir may be a useful alternative for people who cannot take acyclovir.
Scientists are currently studying potential vaccines and topical microbicides in their search for a cure for herpes.
The HSV causes herpes and can affect the mouth or genitals. There is currently no cure for the virus, but treatments exist that can reduce the symptoms and infectiousness of the disease.
Scientists are researching vaccines or compounds that might cure herpes.