Herpes simplex virus infection is increasingly common in the United States. New antiviral medications have expanded treatment options for the two most common cutaneous manifestations, orolabial and genital herpes. Acyclovir therapy remains an effective and often less expensive option. Famciclovir and valacyclovir offer improved oral bioavailability and convenient oral dosing schedules but are more expensive than acyclovir. Patients who have six or more recurrences of genital herpes per year can be treated with one of the following regimens: acyclovir, 400 mg twice daily; valacyclovir, 1 g daily; or famciclovir, 250 mg twice daily. These regimens are effective in suppressing 70 to 80 percent of symptomatic recurrences. Episodic treatment of recurrent genital herpes is of questionable benefit, but it may be helpful in appropriately selected patients. There is little evidence indicating benefit from treatment of recurrent orolabial herpes, which tends to be mild and infrequent.





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