Herpes is categorized into two types - herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). The former is the cause of oral herpes, and genital herpes can actually be caused by either strain [1].

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one in every sixth person in the U.S (aged 14-49) has genital herpes, which makes it clear why it’s essential for us to know more about the virus - including whether or not it can be treated and if it can really clear up on its own.

How do you treat herpes?

Although there is no cure for herpes and symptoms can sometimes clear up on their own, it’s important to seek treatment to reduce both the severity and frequency of the infection.

While treatment for herpes cannot completely cure the virus, it can help in reducing symptoms and reduce the likelihood of it spreading between sexual partners. Similar to how the signs and symptoms of oral and genital herpes can differ, the treatments for each tend to vary.

See also: What is Herpes? How to Deal With a Herpes Diagnosis

What is the treatment for oral herpes?

Possibly more commonly known as a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is primarily caused by HSV-1 [2]. This type of herpes is typically spread through direct skin contact with someone who has the virus. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, many people contract HSV-1 as babies if they have been kissed by a family member who had a cold sore.

Though oral herpes usually clears up on its own within a number of days, there are some things you can consider that will help relieve any irritation or pain:

  • Cream to ease pain and irritation
  • Antiviral cream to speed up healing time
  • Cold sore patches

See also: Cold Sores and Herpes: What You Should Know

What is the treatment for genital herpes?

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that almost anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting it. Despite popular belief, you can’t contract genital herpes from a toilet seat but you can contract by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.

Similar to oral herpes, genital herpes is known to clear up by itself but the right medication can stop the symptoms getting worse as well as ease any pain [3]. If you have genital herpes, you may be prescribed:

  • Antiviral medication
  • Anaesthetic cream

See also: What’s the Difference Between HSV-1 and HSV-2? Symptoms and Causes

What happens if you leave herpes untreated?

Many people who contract herpes don’t realize it. This comes down to the fact that herpes doesn’t always show obvious signs and symptoms, and when herpes symptoms do show - they can sometimes be quite mild.

Without regular sexual health testing, it’s possible to have the virus, not know, and, ultimately leave it untreated. Unfortunately, there are some notable complications associated with untreated herpes, particularly untreated genital herpes, these include:

  • Increased risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Babies can be exposed to the virus during birth (neonatal herpes)
  • Inflammation in the bladder or the lining of the rectum

Can herpes go away forever?

While the signs and symptoms associated with both types of herpes can come and go, the virus stays in the body and there is no cure.

With that said, the treatments available can help to shorten and sometimes prevent a herpes outbreak. There are also medications available that can lower the risk of spreading the infection to others.

One of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting an STD is with regular screening. This can be done by taking a trip to your doctors office or from the comfort of your own home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Herpes Test can detect herpes simplex antibodies for either HSV-1 or HSV-2. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated medical team will be there to offer a helping hand should you have any questions.

See also: How do you Check for Herpes From Home?


  1. World Health Organization. Herpes simplex virus. Online: Who.int, 2020
  2. NHS. Cold sores. Online: NHS.uk, 2020
  3. NHS. Genital Herpes. Online: NHS.uk, 2020