Risk of Genital Herpes Outbreak from Chemical Peel?

Is it necessary to take a anti viral medication for a chemical (glycolic) peel if you are infected with gential herpes? If so how many days prior to the peel should you begin the medication?

Doctor Answers 3

Herpes virus prophylaxis for facial chemical peels

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When having a light or medium depth chemical peel of the face, it's important to take precautions to minimize the chance of herpes outbreak across the peeled skin of the face. This is done by taking acyclovir or valcyclovir medication beginning on the day of the peel and finishing a full 7 - 10 day course.

However, genital herpes do not pose a risk for facial infection, unless you were to touch the area of infection in the genitals and then touch the area of facial peel without washing your hands. This should be avoided.

Patients undergoing light chemical peels (glycolic alone) need to take the medication only if they've had a history of "cold sores" or other herpes infection of the face.

All patients undergoing medium depth peels should take the medication, whether they have a history of cold sores or not.

Glycolic peels are light

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Generally a glycolic peel is not stressful enough to induce a herpes out break. Having said that, the down side risk of using herpes prophylaxis is so very small, we generally advise valtrex for any one with a history of herpes type one or type two. However, the only times I have seen an outbreak of gential herpes were in association with liposuction. The key here is the stress of having the procedure can be associated with an outbreak and it is prudent to take the medication to cover this possiblity. Cold sores on the face following a peel do not usually cause significant scaring but it does delay healing.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Genital herpes outbreak from chemical peel

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It is possibilty to have a genital herpes outbreak from any trauma like a chemical peel. Precaution of pre treatment anti virals are in order.

From MIAMI Dr. B

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.