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Herpes: Caring for Sores

Good hygiene matters when you have herpes. Take care of your sores to speed healing. Sores that are not cared for correctly can lead to other infections.

Woman preparing her bath water.
Warm baths can ease itching and burning caused by sores.

To ease your symptoms

  • Take any medicines as directed.

  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.

  • Take warm or cool baths to ease itching of sores. And don’t share towels or other personal items when you have a sore.

  • Women may find it helpful to urinate in a tub of warm water to prevent burning.

  • Don’t wear tight clothes or nylon underwear. They can trap moisture, cause chafing, and prevent sores from healing.

To speed healing

  • Wash the sores with mild soap and water. And wash your hands for 15 to 30 seconds after you touch a sore.

  • Dry the affected area completely by patting a towel over it. Don't rub. Don't share towels.

  • Don’t bandage sores. The dry air helps them heal.

  • Don't use ointments unless they are prescribed. They hold in moisture and may cause other infections.

  • Don’t pick at the sores. This can slow healing.

  • Don’t touch your eyes when you have a sore. The virus may travel from your fingertips to your eyes.

For more information

American Sexual Health Association STI Hotline, 919-361-8488, www.ashasexualhealth.org/

CDC, 800-232-4636, www.cdc.gov/std

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
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