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Herpes treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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Can a doctor treat herpes on Maple?

Yes, a doctor on Maple can offer herpes treatment options.

However, before offering a herpes diagnosis, the doctor will likely want to have some additional lab tests performed to confirm the presence of the herpes simplex virus and rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

Can I get a prescription on Maple?

Yes, our physicians can prescribe herpes medications online during your consultation. Once you accept a prescription, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy or to have it delivered to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

What is herpes?

Herpes, also called the herpes simplex virus, HSV or genital herpes, is what most people think about when they hear herpes.

About one-fifth of all people over the age of 12 in North America have the HSV-2 virus, while experts estimate between 50%-80% of adults may have HSV-1 (also known as oral herpes). Most don’t even know they have it.

There are two types of this virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2), and there are eight total types of herpesviruses that can affect humans:

  • HSV-1
  • HSV-2
  • Varicella-zoster virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Human herpesvirus 6 (Variants A & B)
  • Human herpesvirus 7
  • Human herpesvirus 8 (or Kaposi’s sarcoma virus)

These other forms of herpesviruses are far rarer than the herpes simplex viruses. The information in this questionnaire will focus exclusively on the herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2).

What are the symptoms of herpes?

Most people that are infected with HSV don’t know that they have it, because they don’t have any herpes signs or symptoms, or they’re extremely mild.

However, absence of herpes symptoms doesn’t mean the virus isn’t present. Moreover, symptoms can appear in as little as two days after exposure to the virus, or lay dormant for months or years.

Some people will contract HSV-1 or HSV-2 in their lifetime, but never realize they have it because they have no herpes symptoms.

When the first episode of herpes occurs, it could present systemic symptoms, such as:

  • Malaise
  • Fever
  • Myalgia (muscle aches)
  • Headache
  • Dysuria (painful urination)
  • Localized pain and itching
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The most common recurring herpes signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain or itching around the mouth or genitals
  • Ulcers (also known as cold sores)
  • Tiny white blisters or small red bumps
  • Scabbing (once ulcers begin to heal)

These symptoms most often occur in specific areas for both sexes, such as:

  • Thighs and buttocks
  • Mouth or lips
  • Anus
  • In the urethra

For men, the penis and scrotum could also show signs of herpes.

In women, the vaginal area and external genitals may experience herpes symptoms, as well as internally at the cervix.

What causes herpes?

The herpes simplex virus causes herpes in both of these forms.

Intimate contact with someone who’s infected with either HSV-1 or HSV-2 causes herpes to spread from one person to another. These can be transmitted in specific ways, depending on which variant the host is carrying.

Kissing a partner or skin-to-skin contact is the most common way for HSV-1 to spread, and this form causes herpes symptoms around the mouth and lips. Although, this form can be spread to the genital areas through various methods of oral sex. This form is less recurrent than HSV-2.

HSV-2 is the type of herpes simplex virus most often associated with genital herpes. Vaginal sex, anal sex, and skin-to-skin contact cause this herpes virus to spread, and this form is extremely contagious, especially during flare-ups.

How is herpes diagnosed?

While it’s possible to get a herpes diagnosis by observing your symptoms, the doctor will most likely suggest having additional testing done to confirm the presence before offering a herpes prescription.

Additional testing could include:

  • Blood tests
  • Viral cultures (using tissue samples from the affected area)
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test (using DNA from your blood, tissue, or spinal fluid)
How is herpes treated?

At this time, there is no cure for either form of herpes simplex virus. This can make herpes treatments difficult, depending on the severity of the herpes symptoms.

However, once you’ve received a herpes diagnosis, the doctor may offer a herpes prescription to assist with managing unpleasant or painful symptoms.

The most common herpes medications used are antivirals, such as:

  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)

These herpes medications may help alleviate some symptoms or speed up the healing process. However, they won’t stop the virus from spreading to others.

You should avoid having sexual contact with your partner if either of you is experiencing an outbreak. Doing so will increase the unaffected person’s risks of experiencing an outbreak themselves.

When to see a doctor for herpes?

If you’re experiencing signs of herpes, it would be a good idea to speak to your doctor so that you can educate yourself on how to manage your herpes symptoms and minimize spreading it to others.

Consider your recent sexual history ahead of speaking with your doctor, especially if you’ve recently started a sexual relationship with a new partner or multiple partners.

Generally, if you begin to experience genital pain, sores, or unusual discharge, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor, so that they can determine whether you might require herpes treatment options and so you can minimize affecting others with the condition.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a doctor about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare platform for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

Our doctors can assess symptoms and provide treatment, including prescriptions as necessary.

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Treatable conditions

Mental health

Our doctors are available to provide advice and treatment for common mental health conditions.

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Women’s/men’s health

Doctors and nurse practitioners can advise on family planning and treat conditions, including urinary tract infections and erectile dysfunction.

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