Genital Herpes Treatment Topical Medication

Topical herpes medicines are not prescribed as often as oral medication. In general, the oral antiviral agents work better and are more suited for suppression therapy. Topical medications are most appropriate for episodic treatment of mild to moderate outbreaks.

Zovirax® Cream

The prescription herpes medicine Zovirax (acyclovir) is also available in cream form. For best results, Zovirax cream should be applied to the skin as soon as an outbreak is detected. The cream is absorbed by HSV-infected cells, and only becomes active when in contact with herpes simplex DNA. To prevent the virus from transmitting itself onto the fingers the use of latex gloves is recommended when applying Zovirax cream. Thorough hand washing after application is also recommended.

Side effects of Zovirax cream are usually mild: swelling, redness or itchiness of the infected site may occur. Pregnant or nursing women should restrict their use of Zovirax cream. Specialists suggest that the cream be used only to treat severe outbreaks.


Cidofovir is a topical gel derived from the eye drop medication trifluridine, which is used to treat ocular herpes lesions. The FDA has yet to approve cidofovir as a herpes treatment, although the medication is available from its manufacturer, Gilead, on a compassionate basis. Cidofovir has been used to treat the severe outbreaks that can occur in people living with HIV and herpes.

Non-Prescription Options: ViraDerm, Herpasil and Choraphor

A number of non-prescription topical treatments are available, many of which have yet to receive FDA approval as herpes treatments. Their effectiveness varies wildly: some are legitimate treatments, while others are little more than scams preying on people who are looking for relief.

ViraDerm® is one topical solution that holds some promise. The treatment has been the subject of several clinical trials, and has undergone Phase II FDA trials. Claims that ViraDerm can sometimes eliminate future outbreaks have yet to be firmly proven. ViraDerm is sold online.

Herpasilâ„¢ is another treatment available online. The manufacturer claims that the active ingredient, a substance from the Prunella vulgaris plant, restricts the virus’s ability to spread from cell to cell.

Choraphorâ„¢ is a topical herbal treatment whose active ingredients are sulphur and St. John’s Wort. The manufacturer claims that it should be applied to open lesions to promote the healing process. Some small clinical trials have been run, mostly by the manufacturer. The cream tends to sting when applied to open lesions. St. John’s Wort has been shown to have anti-viral properties and certainly sulphur has antiseptic properties, which may inhibit secondary bacterial infection of the lesions.

Are these non-prescription ointments and creams effective? The lack of FDA approval indicates that their abilities have yet to be conclusively proven or disproven. Consult with your doctor before trying any non-prescription herpes treatment. Some companies, such as the makers of ViraDerm, provide product specifications to doctors on request.

Resources (nd). Frequently asked questions about genital herpes. Retrieved August 26, 2002, from