Young woman using telehealth to get herpes medication without seeing a doctor in person

How can I get herpes medication without a healthcare provider in-person?

Written on March 19, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Table of contents


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a common viral infection without a vaccine or cure [1]. HSV can cause blisters around your mouth or on your genitals. Herpes can make you feel stigmatized and uncomfortable, so you may want to know how to get herpes medication without a doctor. Fortunately, you can get herpes medications t without a doctor's prescription. However, herpes is a lifelong condition, so it is critical to find a healthcare provider you can trust if you need herpes treatment.

The term "herpes" is often used to describe multiple types of herpes. This article focuses on HSV-1 and HSV-2, the two most common types of herpes [1]. This article will answer the most common questions about HSV, including "how can I get herpes medication without a doctor?"

What is the herpes simplex virus?

HSV belongs to the Herpesviridae family of viruses, which includes eight types of herpes capable of infecting humans [2]. Aside from HSV-1 and HSV-2, other common herpes strains include varicella-zoster virus (VZV) (chickenpox, shingles) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)(mono). Once infected with a herpes virus, you have it for life as a cure does not exist. However, you can have herpes and not know it.

All herpes viruses are known for their unique capability of remaining latent or silent in the body. The virus hides in your nerve ganglia, which are bundles of nerves throughout your body. Herpes symptoms appear as a result of external and internal factors. Herpes can create painful blisters around your mouth or genitals, along with a fever and muscle aches. When the virus creates symptoms, it is called a "herpes flareup." With the basics of herpes covered, let's take a closer look at HSV-1 and HSV-2.

HSV-1 and oral herpes

Approximately 80% of Americans have HSV-1, the most common strain of herpes [1]. HSV-1 is characterized by blisters around the mouth, which is why the condition is also known as herpes labialis or oral herpes. HSV-2 can also cause blisters around the mouth, but it is much less common. The most common way to contract HSV-1 is through contact with infected saliva during childhood or adolescence [3]. Many people never have any symptoms, but those who do experience cold sores or fever blisters around their mouths, along with flu-like symptoms [4].

Experiencing physical or mental stress can reactivate HSV-1 and cause an oral herpes flareup. Oral herpes can occur for several reasons, including [5]:

  • Dental procedures
  • Emotional and psychosocial stress
  • Flu
  • Fever
  • Lack of sleep
  • Intense sun exposure
  • Respiratory problems
  • Treatments that suppress the immune system
  • Infections with additional viruses, such as HIV

Initially, blisters appear as fluid-filled bumps and then become crusty [5]. Oral herpes is a self-limiting condition, meaning the blisters will go away on their own. The blisters typically last between 7 to 10 days [5].

Your first herpes outbreak is more likely to cause systemic symptoms than future outbreaks. In addition to blisters around the mouth, you may experience the following symptoms [4]:

  • High fever
  • Gum pain
  • Throat irritation
  • Migraine
  • Aching muscles
  • Swollen lymph nodes

HSV-1 can also cause herpetic gingivostomatitis, characterized by painful blisters in the mouth and high fever [6]. Herpetic gingivostomatitis is more common in children under five, but it can also affect adults [6]. Herpetic gingivostomatitis is also a self-limiting condition.

Herpetic gingivostomatitis affects children more severely because they are more prone to dehydration [6]. Ensure your child stays hydrated and use analgesics (pain relievers) to reduce pain [6]. If you or your child develops herpetic gingivostomatitis, consult your dentist.

HSV-2 and genital herpes

HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) characterized by painful genital blisters [3]. HSV-2 spreads through oral, anal, or vaginal sex [7]. Similar to HSV-1, you are more likely to experience flu-like symptoms during your initial outbreak of genital herpes [7,8]. You are more likely to have reoccurring genital herpes if you have [3,7]:

  • HIV
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexual contact without protection

Even if you don't have active lesions, you can still transmit the virus to your partner [7]. Active lesions, however, increase the likelihood of transmission. As a result, do not engage in sexual activity while you have an active outbreak.

Private STD consultations

What medications are available for treating herpes?

Herpes medications are available over the counter (OTC) and by prescription. Prescription herpes medications for oral and genital herpes include [9,10]:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax): tablet or cream (5%)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex): tablet
  • Famciclovir: tablet

Antivirals are most effective when taken within the first 48-72 hours of symptoms [9]. Before the oral or genital blisters appear, you may feel a tingling or burning sensation. Taking an antiviral during this time can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.

Antiviral creams are also available for topically treating oral and genital herpes blisters [10]. Oral and cream antivirals will not cure a herpes infection, but they can reduce the pain and the duration of blisters.

OTC oral herpes creams include [4,11]:

  • Benzocaine (Orajel™): topical pain relief
  • Docosanol (Abreva®): topical antiviral
  • Hydrocortisone: topical corticosteroid

All OTC herpes creams can reduce pain, but only Abreva is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to shorten the duration of oral herpes [11]. OTC creams are not recommended for genital herpes [7]. However, OTC oral pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain from oral or genital herpes.

Prescription genital and oral herpes creams include [10]:

  • Acyclovir (5%) cream or ointment: topical antiviral (genital and oral)
  • Penciclovir (Denavir) cream: topical antiviral (oral only)
  • Xerese (acyclovir/hydrocortisone) cream: topical antiviral and corticosteroid with acyclovir 5% and hydrocortisone 1% (oral only)

A cure for herpes does not exist. However, antiviral medications can lessen the pain and shorten the duration of an active herpes outbreak. Consult your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment option for you.

Can you get a prescription for herpes medication online?

Yes, you can get prescription herpes medications online. With Everlywell, you can schedule a virtual care visit from the comfort of your home. You can easily and discreetly speak to your healthcare provider and have a prescription sent to your local pharmacy. Everlywell's online STD treatment option makes it easy to schedule your virtual care visit.

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References

  1. Herpes simplex. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed March 5, 2023.
  2. Chakrabarty A, Pang KR, Wu JJ, et al. Emerging therapies for herpes viral infections (types 1 - 8). Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2004;9(2):237-256. doi:10.1517/14728214.9.2.237. URL
  3. Detailed STD facts - Genital Herpes. Cdc.gov. URL. Published June 28, 2022. Accessed March 4, 2023.
  4. Cold sore. Mayo Clinic. URL. Published January 24, 2023. Accessed March 4, 2023.
  5. Gopinath D, Koe KH, Maharajan MK, Panda S. A Comprehensive Overview of Epidemiology, Pathogenesis and the Management of Herpes Labialis. Viruses. 2023 Jan 13;15(1):225. doi: 10.3390/v15010225. PMID: 36680265; PMCID: PMC9867007. URL
  6. Aslanova M, Ali R, Zito PM. Herpetic Gingivostomatitis. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. URL
  7. Albrecht, M. Patient education: Genital herpes (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. URL . Accessed March 5, 2023.
  8. Whitley RJ, Roizman B. Herpes simplex virus infections. Lancet. 2001;357(9267):1513-1518. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04638-9. URL
  9. Valacyclovir (oral route). Mayoclinic.org. URL. Published February 7, 2023. Accessed March 5, 2023.
  10. Cernik C, Gallina K, Brodell RT. The treatment of herpes simplex infections: an evidence-based review. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1137-1144. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.11.1137. URL
  11. How to treat cold sores. Abreva.com. URL. Accessed March 5, 2023.
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