We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Chronic Herpes?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Chronic herpes generally refers to infected people who have six or more outbreaks of herpes in a year’s time. Frequent outbreaks are a medical concern because herpes simplex virus does create a risk for other illnesses, such as the development of viral meningitis, and a high frequency of outbreaks can make it difficult for people to pursue sexual relations. Most people have fewer infections per year and these become less frequent the longer the person has the condition. Some people are particularly prone to herpes outbreaks, especially those with compromised immune systems. Fortunately, there are ways to successfully treat this condition.

When a person has active symptoms of herpes, the condition is usually considered acute — each outbreak is called an acute phase of herpes. Chronic herpes cannot be diagnosed until the outbreak number exceeds six acute phases within a year. In the first year that a person contracts herpes, it’s possible to have six or more outbreaks, without being considered chronic, provided outbreaks are reduced in the second year. Diagnosis is made easier if outbreaks continue to be frequent in the second year or several years after contraction of the illness.

Most people will not have chronic forms of herpes, but in the first year many doctors recommend that people take antiviral medications like acyclovir or famciclovir. Not only can these help reduce the discomfort of an initial infection, but they can also suppress additional infections. This doesn’t mean that people can expect to have no infections, but they often have fewer infections if they use an antiviral medication. These medications are usually only used for six months to a year. In cases where patients appear to have chronic herpes, these medications are used for a longer time period.

In addition to reducing the numerous infections that may accompany herpes, antiviral medications may help reduce risk for developing illnesses that can be very dangerous. In particular, it’s essential to decrease the possible chance of developing conditions like meningitis, which is difficult to treat and can cause swelling of the brain. Since those prone to frequent herpes outbreaks may have compromised immune systems, it’s also important to reduce incidence of outbreaks so that other complications like infection don’t occur.

Indication for how long a patient should remain on antiviral medications really depends on the individual. Some people remain on antivirals for a year or longer. If a patient continues to have an ongoing autoimmune or immunosuppressed state, he or she might require medical treatment for herpes for longer. Some people with chronic herpes are able to discontinue medication after a few years and have significant reduction in the amount of outbreaks. Again, it’s important to state that most people do not have chronic herpes, but if they experience frequent outbreaks, they should see their physician for medical advice.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Mar 30, 2014

Chronic herpes does not only refer to genital herpes (herpes type two). It's also possible to have chronic herpes type one, where someone experiences frequent cold sores on the lips.

By candyquilt — On Mar 29, 2014

@donasmrs-- It's true that visible symptoms have nothing to do with the likelihood of passing the infection to others. It's possible to pass it to others even when there are zero symptoms.

I think that chronic herpes is emotionally draining for those suffering from it more than anything else. I think someone who has six or more outbreaks per year will be more concerned about regaining health and strengthening the immune system rather than pursuing sexual relations.

Chronic herpes symptoms are usually very painful and lead to numerous other issues like fatigue, fever, problems while urinating, physical discomfort and even headaches. So the issue is about pushing the virus back into dormancy so that relief from these symptoms can occur. This usually requires a combination of anti-viral medications, immune system strengthening supplements, a healthy lifestyle with healthy diet and exercise, and staying as far away from stress as possible. Unfortunately, thinking about chronic herpes actually makes herpes worse because stress weakens the immune system.

By donasmrs — On Mar 29, 2014

Those with chronic herpes are often depressed because they cannot engage in sexual relations while they are experiencing an outbreak. But I saw a recent study which suggests that individuals with herpes are infectious even when they are not experiencing an outbreak.

Those with mild herpes who only experience one breakout per year or less feel that they can have sexual relations most of the year without infecting anyone. But this is probably not true. So I think that those with chronic herpes need not be depressed about their condition, because everyone with herpes has this issue, not only those with chronic herpes.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.