Yes, you can get genital herpes treatment online

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 4 min read

Genital herpes is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI), affecting one in every six people between the ages of 14 to 49 in the United States. While managing genital herpes can seem overwhelming, there are things you can do to reduce symptoms and outbreaks.

Becoming educated about genital herpes is an important step in taking control of your overall health and we’re here to help you do just that. Learn more about what genital herpes is, how it’s spread, what signs and symptoms to look out for and treatment options.

What is genital herpes and how is it spread?

Genital herpes is a very common STI that is most often caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and less commonly by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can occur in areas of the body other than the genitals, including the lips, mouth, throat, and more rarely, the eyes.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 are spread through skin-to-skin contact—kissing and oral, vaginal and anal sex—with someone who has the virus. It’s important to note that someone who is infected with herpes can pass the virus on to a partner even though they may not have a visible flare-up.

Once outside of the body, the virus dies quickly so there’s no need to worry about getting genital herpes from toilet seats, holding hands, hugging or coughing and sneezing.

While herpes is not curable, there are medications available to help prevent and treat new outbreaks, as well as self-care tips to manage symptoms.

What does genital herpes look like? What are the signs and symptoms?

Many people who have genital herpes don’t even know they are infected as they don’t have any, or only very mild, symptoms. The most common symptom is clusters of itchy, painful bumps that resemble small blisters or pimples. These clusters can be red, yellow or white in color and tend to open up and scab over. Additional herpes symptoms may include:

Common Herpes symptoms

  • Tingling, itching or burning in the affected area
  • Burning feeling when you pee
  • Trouble peeing due to swelling or sores blocking your urethra
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Feeling lethargic or easily fatigued

After initial exposure, the first outbreak often occurs within 2 to 20 days and may last for two to four weeks. The herpes simplex virus will remain in your body and can flare again in the future, so it’s important to continue proper self-care and taking precautions with sexual partners—including candid conversations about your herpes status.

How is genital herpes diagnosed?

The only way to know for sure if you have genital herpes is to get tested by your healthcare provider. And it’s important to seek testing for genital herpes if a sexual partner has them or you notice a cluster of sores or other symptoms.

Herpes isn’t usually included in standard STI screenings, so if you want to be tested specifically for genital herpes, make sure to speak up.

Your healthcare provider will do one of two procedures to test for genital herpes. They’ll either use a swab to gently sample fluid from an open sore on your genitals or, if you don’t have any sores, they can run a blood test to check for antibodies.

How can I manage genital herpes symptoms?

There isn’t a cure for genital herpes. However, there are ways to manage your symptoms and help prevent future outbreaks. A prescription antiviral medication is the most effective way to reduce the frequency and severity of future outbreaks and the likelihood of passing the virus to a partner.

In addition to taking a prescription antiviral medication, the following tips can help ease symptoms:

Managing Herpres symptoms

  • Keep the affected area dry
  • Wear underwear made of soft, breathable fabric like cotton
  • Use an ice pack on particularly painful sores
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, like Advil® or Tylenol®

Genital herpes tends to flare up when the immune system is weakened. To help ward off future outbreaks, consider the following tips.

Herpes flare-up prevention tips

  • Stay hydrated — Aim to drink at least 64 oz. of water each day, and more on days you’re physically active.
  • Get enough sleep — Sleep allows your body to repair and gives you energy to fight off illnesses.
  • Slow down — Fight FOMO (fear of missing out) and give yourself permission to opt out sometimes.
  • Reduce stress — Stress can have a huge impact on our immune systems. Do your best to manage stress and take care of your mental health.

Can I get genital herpes treatment online?

To reduce the duration and severity of future outbreaks, talk to your healthcare provider about getting a prescription for an antiviral medication. If you’re age 18 or older, you can take advantage of online health care services like Virtuwell which allow you to get the treatment you need, without a trip into the clinic.

Simply start a visit with Virtuwell, fill out a short questionnaire detailing your symptoms and medical history and one of our certified nurse practitioners will review your answers and send you a personalized treatment plan along with a prescription to your preferred pharmacy. Your genital herpes treatment plan will include details about how to effectively take your prescribed medication, self-care tips to manage symptoms and ways to help prevent future outbreaks.

We’re here to support you and get you back to feeling comfortable and confident. Start a visit today, and learn how to manage your genital herpes symptoms and outbreaks.