Skip to content

    Genital Herpes Health Center

    Select An Article

    Alternative Treatments for Genital Herpes

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    A number of alternative (also called complementary) therapies can help you deal with outbreaks of genital herpes.

    Home Care Measures for Genital Herpes

    First, simple self-care may be enough to relieve most discomfort caused by genital herpes. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain of herpes symptoms. Doctors sometimes recommend soaking the affected area in warm water. But the area should be kept dry most of the time. If toweling off after bathing is uncomfortable, try using a hair dryer. Then put on cotton underwear. Cotton absorbs moisture better than synthetic fabric does.

    Herbs, Supplements, and More for Genital Herpes

    Scientists have studied herbal extracts and nutritional supplements based on some herpes patients' claims that they help relieve symptoms. Some study results have been promising, others discouraging.

    Many people say that an extract of the echinacea plant helps boost the immune system's ability to fight infection. Some say it decreases the frequency and severity of genital herpes outbreaks. Researchers in the U.K. compared the effect of echinacea with that of a placebo. They gave echinacea to 50 people with genital herpes for six months and a placebo for another six months. There was no significant difference in the number of herpes outbreaks during the two periods.

    Another study showed that an ointment containing propolis, a waxy substance that honeybees make, may help herpes sores heal. Sores healed faster for people using the propolis ointment than in those using ointments containing the antiviral drug acyclovir or a placebo. The ointment was applied to herpes sores four times a day. After 10 days, 24 of the 30 people using propolis ointment said their sores healed, compared with 14 of the 30 people using acyclovir ointment and 12 of the 30 using a placebo.

    Researchers have also found that the herb Prunella vulgaris, and an edible mushroom, Rozites caperata (the "gypsy mushroom"), contain chemicals that fight both HSV-1 and HSV-2.

    These treatments have not been approved for treating genital herpes by the FDA. You can buy them in stores, but they are considered nutritional supplements, not drugs, so they are not subjected to the same quality standards that FDA-approved drugs are.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on September 22, 2014

    Today on WebMD

    STD Overview
    Slideshow
    BHC Healthy Sex Life
    Quiz
     
    things your guy wish you knew slideshow
    Slideshow
    Sex Drive Killers 03
    Slideshow
     
    Genital Herpes Risks Quiz
    Quiz
    Young couple holding hands
    Quiz
     
    Hepatitis Prevent 10
    Feature
    Herpes Vaccine Study
    Video
     
    Daughter Development Evaluator
    Article
    HPV Vaccine Future
    Article
     
    STD Facts Quiz
    Quiz
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
     

    WebMD Special Sections