How Genital Herpes Scars Are Treated

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Though most genital herpes sores do not cause scarring, it can still happen to some individuals if their herpes sores break open. There are options for reducing the appearance of these scars.

This article will discuss treatment options for genital herpes scars, including dermatology treatments, home remedies, and preventing outbreaks that can result in scars.

Person lying in treatment room receiving laser treatment for scar reduction

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Dermatological Procedures

If scars form, dermatological procedures can help diminish the appearance of genital herpes scarring. These include:

  • Laser therapy: Laser therapy is a dermatological procedure that uses a concentrated light beam made up of specific wavelengths that can treat scarring.
  • Microdermabrasion: Microdermabrasion is a dermatological procedure that resurfaces the skin through exfoliation (removing dead cells from the skin's surface). It is gentle and non-invasive.

Talk to a healthcare provider to see if these options may be right for you.

Herpes Causes

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is most commonly associated with oral herpes, while HSV-2 is most often associated with genital herpes. However, they can overlap, and either virus can cause a herpes infection at either location.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Currently, there is little research to support the effectiveness of home remedies for scar treatment. However, the following options may be helpful:

  • Vitamin E: Topical (applied to the skin) vitamin E has long treated scars and burns. However, most evidence is anecdotal, and studies have drawn inconclusive results.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil has been touted as a potential option to treat scars, but like Vitamin E, the evidence is mixed and is mostly anecdotal. It is a traditional scar treatment in India.

Do a Patch Test First

Always do a home patch test prior to applying any skin care treatment to ensure you are not sensitive or allergic to the product or its ingredients (such as fragrance or pigment).

To do this, place a small amount (no more than the size of a pea) of the treatment on an intact small patch of skin. Watch the area for 24 hours for signs of redness or itchiness, which would indicate you are sensitive to the product.

Preventing Scars

Preventing the scars from forming in the first place is key. You can prevent scarring by properly treating herpes sores. You can do these things:

  • Keep the sores clean: Gently wash herpes sores using soap and water. Pat the area dry. Be careful not to rub the sores.
  • Apply cold compresses: This can help ease itching and pain. Scratching can increase the risk of infection, which can lead to scarring. You can use an ice bag, a bag of frozen peas, or a bag of ice water. Be sure to place a clean cloth between the cold source and your skin to prevent further damage. You can apply this for 15 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • Avoid picking or scratching: Breaking open the skin and introducing bacteria can cause scabbing and infection, which interferes with the healing process. This can lead to scarring.
  • Wear loose clothing: This can help prevent further irritation. Tight clothing can rub against the area and lead to breaking open the skin, infection, and scarring.

Preventing Outbreaks

Preventing outbreaks from occurring can lower the risk of developing scars. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to prevent herpes outbreaks. If you have frequent genital herpes outbreaks, they might recommend you take the antiviral medications Famvir (famciclovir), Valtrex (valacyclovir), and Zovirax (acyclovir) daily to lower the risk of an outbreak.


Genital herpes has no cure, but you can manage it effectively through proper treatment and self-care. During an outbreak, you may be concerned about potential scarring from the sores.

Most herpes sores do not cause scarring. Scarring usually only occurs if the sores happen to break open, become infected, and then don't heal correctly.

Dermatological treatments to reduce scars include laser treatment and microdermabrasion. Home remedies such as vitamin E have not proved helpful. Taking proper care of active herpes outbreaks is vital to healing sores and preventing scarring.

If you experience scarring after a herpes outbreak, talk to your healthcare provider about your options to reduce their appearance.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.185494

  2. Nair VV, John JR, Sharma RK. A prospective randomized comparative study of facial scar modulation using topical silicone gel versus coconut oil. Nigerian Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2020;16(2):51-60. doi:10.4103/njps.njps_12_19

  3. MedlinePlus. Genital herpes - self-care.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted infections treatment guidelines, 2021.

By Molly Burford
Molly Burford is a mental health advocate and wellness book author with almost 10 years of experience in digital media.