According to the Office on Women's Health, herpes lasts for the rest of a person's life and never completely goes away or heals. However, individual outbreaks generally resolve more quickly as time goes on. Planned Parenthood explains that the initial outbreak may take two to four weeks to heal, but subsequent recurrences generally heal in 10 to 14 days. Some people have recurrences frequently, while other people experience very few outbreaks.
While there is no cure for herpes, Planned Parenthood contends that current antiviral medications can significantly speed the rate at which herpes sores heal. These drugs are more effective when taken continuously, rather than episodically, to treat individual outbreaks. Additionally, by keeping the sores clean and dry, people can accelerate the healing process.
To prevent spreading herpes to others, it is important to avoid any sexual contact during an outbreak. Planned Parenthood states that condoms are not completely effective at preventing herpes transmission, as sweat and vaginal secretions can carry the virus. Between outbreaks, condoms help to reduce the chances of spreading the infection.
Planned Parenthood states that those with HIV are more likely to catch or spread herpes to their sexual partners. People are also more likely to catch HIV if they are infected with herpes. According to some studies, those with herpes are twice as likely to catch HIV as those who do not have herpes.