Getting Through a New Genital Herpes Diagnosis

It is normal to feel upset and distressed as with any new diagnosis of a medical condition. Remember that herpes doesn't discriminate and you don't need to 'blame' yourself for what is actually a very common condition.

Arrange a follow-up with your doctor

Make sure you have a follow up appointment with your doctor a week after your diagnosis. Ensure you are comfortable with the health provider you are using.  Your local sexual health clinic are experts in caring for people with herpes and provide free check-ups, resources and counselling support. You may wish to take your partner or someone you trust to your appointment with you.

Learn the facts about herpes

Inform yourself with accurate, up-to-date information. There's a lot of misinformation out there, so we recommend sticking to our website ( which is medically-accurate and evidence-based.

Remind yourself that this infection will not affect your fertility, give you cancer or mean that you can't have a healthy, enjoyable sex life. Herpes is  not life threatening, and it does not change who you are as a person. 

Contact the Herpes Helpline

We run a tollfree Helpline and email support service. This is run by our dedicated team of non-judgemental, expert nurse counsellors who can provide free education and support around herpes.

Please note that this service is for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand only. Find out more about our helpline, including opening times and how to get in touch here.

Our Helpline support can reassure you about how a diagnosis may affect your current or new relationships, and can help to facilitate support groups - reassurance can be gained through discussion with people who have a similar condition. 

Looking after yourself

If you need wellbeing support, you can speak to our Helpline, your GP, or find a list of alternative wellbeing support services here.

The first herpes episode is usually the most severe in terms of symptoms. Look after your physical comfort and after a few days you should start to feel symptoms ease. The following treatments may alleviate the pain and discomfort of genital sores:

  • Salt baths used to wash the genital area, can clean, soothe and dry the sores. Use 1 teaspoon of salt in 600ml of water, or a handful in a shallow bath. 
  • Pain relievers include simple analgesics (such as aspirin and paracetamol), ice (which can be soothing if applied directly to the sores) and creams with an aesthetic component. Creams, however, can slow down drying and should therefore be used sparingly and only for pain relief.
  • Loose underclothes, preferably cotton (not nylon), can help minimise discomfort and allow healing.
  • Avoid using scented soaps or perfumed products on the area,
  • Use a low setting of a hairdryer to dry the area with the lesions.
  • Drink fluids hourly. This will make passing urine less painful. For anyone who is experiencing extreme pain when urinating, sitting in a warm bath or using a pump buttle full of water and spraying water on yourself while urinating can make the process less painful. If you are given anaesthetic gel, apply 5 minutes before going to the toilet.

Remember, herpes is like any skin condition, and can be managed with appropriate treatment.