How long does untreated herpes last?Herpes outbreaks usually last for about one to two weeks, though the first outbreak after infection may last longer. The symptoms typically go away on their own without treatment.
The herpes zoster virus which causes chickenpox and shingles can also cause eye herpes. Like the herpes simplex virus, the herpes zoster virus stays dormant in the body once contracted, and you can have flare-ups, periods of reactivation and worsening symptoms.
Occasionally, this leads to a missed eye-herpes diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with pink eye, but it doesn't seem to be clearing up with or without treatment, book a follow-up with your healthcare professional to rule out eye herpes. Topical steroids reduce the inflammation caused by the immune response to the dead viral particles and help prevent corneal scarring. However, they can reactivate the epithelial disease.
Taking oral antivirals along with topical steroids helps prevent this reactivation. The recurrence of ocular herpes is a concern.
Herpes and Genital Herpes: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention
Those who have recurrent issues of live virus such as with epithelial keratitis may need to take long-term oral antivirals proactively. People who have recurrent stromal keratitis may need to take long-term steroid drops with either oral or topical antivirals.
While there is not currently a vaccine to prevent eye herpes, studies are being conducted into one. Epithelial keratitis is the more common type, but stromal keratitis is more serious because it can lead to blindness. It is treated with topical and oral antiviral medications, depending on the type and severity.