A reader asked us: How long do herpes outbreaks last? It’s a good question. Whether or not you have confirmed your diagnosis, you may be wondering about the length of outbreaks. And that’s understandable, because you may be in pain! Especially if this is your first outbreak. Don’t worry; those are the worst, and after that they get much easier to deal with.
How Long do Herpes Outbreaks Last?
- For a first outbreak, symptoms can last for two or three weeks.
- The first outbreaks are more severe in women.
- Later outbreaks are milder and shorter in duration.
So, how long do herpes outbreaks last? A typical herpes outbreak lasts about a week, but the first one can last several weeks and is usually the most painful. The outbreak can seem like forever when the pain is so distracting. A herpes outbreak goes away on its own, but you can also stop it with medicine.
Quickest Way to Stop the Herpes Outbreak
Luckily, your doctor can prescribe you an antiviral like acyclovir or valocyclovir (Valtrex). These can be a godsend and swiftly stop the outbreak within a day or two of use. Your doctor can even discuss the possibility of taking the antiviral every day to prevent future recurrences. Many people choose not to take drugs that can be harsh on the liver on a regular basis, and just use them as needed. If you’re in pain, you want to do what’s available, and these types of drugs are the simply quickest way to stop the outbreak, so ask your doctor about them.
For future reference, drugs like Valtrex work best when you catch the outbreak early. Then there’s a better chance you’ll stop the flare-up. It’s not hard to do once you are aware of the prodromal (early, pre-outbreak) symptoms, such as tingling and tenderness.
Preventing Future Outbreaks
After you stop the outbreak, you can stop the drugs and focus on eliminating the likelihood of future outbreaks by taking a good look at your diet and nutrition, avoiding certain foods, managing stress, and using natural herpes fighters.
In the meantime, there are some basic things you can do to manage the symptoms, such as taking epsom salt baths, wearing loose clothes, and keeping the area dry. Check out our page on herpes pain relief methods.
I certainly hope you feel better! And remember, it’s not the end of the world! It’s just herpes, which in my opinion is just a sometimes irritating skin condition that generally gets better over time and can be easily managed. You can still have a full, good, and awesome life!