Herpes labialis remains a common worldwide affliction. Recent advances in understanding the basic pathogenesis have led to new therapeutic intervention, both on-label and off-label. Aside from reducing the duration and symptomatology of acute outbreaks, another goal of treatment is to decrease the frequency of future episodes. Oral and topical acyclovir and its analogues are the mainstay of both chronic suppressive and episodic therapy. A new muco-adhesive formulation of acyclovir provides a decrease in outbreaks, probably due to a diminution of herpesvirus load in all reservoir sites. Acyclovir-resistant strains are rare in immunocompetent hosts; parenteral foscarnet and cidofovir are administered in this situation. Parenteral acyclovir is the drug of choice for eczema herpeticum, which may begin as herpes labialis in an atopic dermatitis patient. Thermotherapy may be beneficial, and a certified device to deliver heat is available outside the United States.
J Drugs Dermatol. 2017;16(3 Suppl):s49-53. more