Alex Goldberg

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About the Author

Alex Goldberg

Alex worked at three early-stage startups before starting Fin vs Fin. Covering the rise of direct-to-consumer health, his mission is to help patients access better treatments online. He's also a husband, father, and UC Berkeley grad who enjoys golf, podcasts, live music, cooking, and home improvement.

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Roman Herpes Review – Does it Work for Cold Sores & Genital Herpes?

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr. Steve Kim, MD

About Dr. Steve Kim, MD

Physician Advisor

Dr. Kim received his BA in Human Biology at Stanford University, before receiving his M.D. degree (Primary Care Track) from UC Davis School of Medicine. He completed his Internship & Residency in Family Practice from Glendale Adventist Hospital and is Board-Certified in Family Medicine via the American Board of Family Medicine.

Alex Goldberg

Personal appearance and self-confidence are vital parts of our everyday lives, but there are some things that have a surefire way of chipping away at both. Enter cold sores and the herpes simplex virus. According to the WHO, an estimated 67% of the world’s population is infected and 90 percent of people everywhere will get at least one cold sore over the course of their lives. That means it’s not only a common occurrence, but it’s an inescapable reality for tons of normal people around the world.

If those numbers don’t make you run and check, it’s also estimated that 48% of adults in the U.S. are living with oral herpes. With such a huge market, new telemedicine startups like Roman are revolutionizing the way cold sores are treated.

Specifically, they have made it easier than ever to consult a doctor and purchase powerful prescription medication over the web, without ever stepping into a physical office. Although there are other competitors taking a similar approach, Roman is a clear stand out because of their amazingly convenient online platform, personalized approach to treatment, competitive pricing, and discreet shipment packaging.

In this article, we review Roman’s cold sore and herpes treatments, comparing them to alternatives on the market both in terms of price and efficacy. Before we dive in, here’s a quick primer on cold sores and oral herpes.

What causes cold sores to form?

Source: Roman

Most of us have heard of cold sores at some point, or perhaps even had them, but their causes may not always have been as obvious. Most cold sores that appear around the mouth are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).


What exactly is herpes and why does it cause cold sores?


The HSV virus takes two main forms; oral and genital herpes. These are known as HSV-1 and HSV-2 respectively. As you may have guessed, oral herpes is marked by the outbreak of sores or blisters around the mouth. Each strain of the herpes simplex virus has its own distinct DNA traits, which give them their unique identities and why they focus on specific parts of the body. 


These DNA differences in the virus are the main reason HSV-1 is responsible for more cold sore outbreaks than the other strain of the virus – although both can have similar effects on the health and appearance of the person affected. Having a “face-loving” virus is makes oral herpes a real source of discomfort for anyone dealing with an outbreak.

How do you contract herpes?

Both strains of the virus are most effectively treated and suppressed in similar ways, although in moderate to severe cases, the cold sores resulting from oral herpes can develop on the gums, tongue, inner cheeks, and nose of an infected person.


Oral herpes is most often spread through saliva or open sores on the skin. The relative ease of transmission and high level of infectiousness account for why oral herpes is so common. The same can be said or the other form of herpes, HSV-2, which is spread through sexual contact.


Although cold sores usually aren’t life threatening, anyone who may already be coping with a compromised immune system due to AIDS or similar conditions should pay extra attention to the virus and its symptoms to avoid potentially fatal complications.

Do cold sores go away on their own?

Yes. Most sores from herpes will indeed disappear on their own, usually in 2 to 4 weeks – but that can feel like an eternity when you have something painful on your face. And although your cold sores may eventually fade away without treatment, the virus doesn’t, so you might as well prepare to experience symptoms in the future. In some cases, outbreaks can even worsen if left untreated.


The culprit responsible for most cold sore outbreaks, HSV-1, often goes dormant after the first outbreak and remains present in nerve cells before reemerging under trigger conditions – conditions as common as high levels of stress, excessive heat, and even ultraviolet light.


Dealing with HSV and resulting cold sore outbreaks effectively is a matter of staying one step ahead of the virus. It’s not a health concern to be taken lightly. Timely diagnosis and treatment usually mean the difference between severe, highly visible outbreaks with complications, and the ability to largely suppress the virus and its symptoms.


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the right treatment can reduce the length and severity of an outbreak – so you’ll want to get a diagnosis if you think you have Herpes and set up a treatment plan so you can help yourself get better faster.

How to diagnose cold sores and herpes

Being a high-visibility, low-comfort health concern means that people seeking relief from cold sores are usually looking for something to speed up the healing process and shorten the duration of outbreaks. Reducing the pain (and duration) of an outbreak is a great reason to get treatment. The first step in this process should always be an accurate diagnosis by someone who knows exactly what they’re looking at or can easily find out with a few tests.


Doctors and physicians are almost always able to correctly diagnose cold sores and their underlying cause just by seeing them. Along with a few details about the general health of the person affected, diagnosing cold sores and the virus that causes them is normally a matter of one visit to a qualified medical specialist.


In the instance the doctor would need to be extra sure about what she or he is seeing, samples are taken from the sores and examined in depth. Even in this instance, the wait time for results and conclusions is low. By now you’re probably beginning to see that cold sores and the herpes virus don’t really come with any perks or benefits, but fortunately, it’s easy for trained professionals to diagnose them quickly.

Cold sore treatment 101: Getting the upper hand

An important thing to keep in mind while searching online for prescription-strength treatments is that you want to make sure you get FDA approved medicines from legitimate providers. It’s best to avoid shopping sites and sketchy pages with invisible credentials that omit information about the people behind their sales.


Sticking with platforms that maintain a high level of transparency while providing federal-approved prescriptions prescribed by licensed physicians (the way Roman does) is a smart move that will help ensure you get the actual treatment that you need. 


Thanks to recent technology advances, a handful of companies like Roman are able to offer “telemedicine” visits. These are basically online doctors visits, where you can actually get diagnosed by licensed physicians, who will prescribe treatment if it makes sense – all without having to leave your couch, and in most states, all online without actually having to talk to anyone on the phone.

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Here is more on how you get treatment with Roman’s doctors online:

How to get herpes meds from Roman

Getting a visit with a licensed physician through Roman for your oral or genital herpes is fast and easy. And the whole process can usually be managed online, from the visit to the treatment plan to getting the medicines delivered to your door. 

What does Roman charge for herpes treatment?

Your first virtual doctor’s visit with Roman for a herpes diagnosis is 100%  free! If their medical team determines that you’re eligible for prescription meds, Roman’s cold sore and HSV treatments can start as low as $14.00 a month.

What’s a virtual doctor’s visit with Roman like?

The visit itself is mainly conducted through a series of online questions. Make sure you answer these as openly and honestly as you can, since you want to help the doctor understand if there are any conditions that might make Roman’s herpes treatment a bad fit.

During this visit you’ll have share a photo of your ID, as most states regulations require it so that they can know or ”prove” who they are treating. In some states you may need to do an online video chat or phone call with a doctor.

After going through the online questionnaire, the doctor will go over the information provided and work out a plan of action.

For anyone seeking much-needed help for an outbreak, an online visit with Roman’s doctors can be a ray of hope, especially since the first doctor’s visit is free (that beats the cost of most doctors’ visits by a long shot!) This is probably less expensive than most insurance co-pays, and if you don’t have insurance it’s a great deal. Additionally, since you don’t have to take time off work to drag yourself out to the doctor’s office, it saves you time.


Roman offers this telehealth approach to a myriad of other health conditions and concerns, including mental health. They recognize the need for support in all areas of life, one of which we cover in our review of Roman’s Ro Mind.


Is Roman a trustworthy herpes treatment provider?

Going HSV treatments from Roman has a few unique advantages, one being unparalleled medical expertise. Roman’s physician in residence, Dr. Michael Reitano, not only has treated thousands of patients suffering from the HSV-1 virus, but also wrote Roman’s primary treatment plan and lead a landmark study on Valtrex, a leading treatment.

Another core advantage of Roman’s is that they can fulfill your prescription for herpes medication FAST, and treating herpes quickly can help improve the recovery time, according to JAMA’s Internal Medicine publication. Research also suggests that you can reduce the spread of herpes if you suppress it as soon as you think it is happening.

Roman makes swift treatment a priority by offering visitors free two-day shipping on all their FDA-approved medications. Think how much time you save by not having to wait for an appointment opening to see your doctor in-person, as well.

What does Roman prescribe for cold sores & herpes?

When it comes to HSV, there are quite a few different FDA approved treatments – and a ton of less “proven” treatments. Roman offers Valacyclovir, which is Generic Valtrex. This is a drug that is FDA-approved for the treatment of both genital herpes and cold sores. It works well against both forms of HSV.


You might be used to treating your cold sores with ointments or topical creams. It’s important to understand that the blisters that form around the lips have an underlying cause.


Valacyclovir is a pill that focuses on the underlying virus, not just the symptoms.

With a few exceptions, over-the-counter creams and ointments tend to provide relief from the pain or may work to dry lesions around the mouth, but they generally don’t target the root of the problem.

How effective is Valacyclovir for HSV?

Valacyclovir, the prescription treatment for cold sore and genital herpes that Roman offers, is a well-understood  and clinically-proven medicine. It’s FDA-approved for this condition, and is commonly prescribed to a wide range of patients because:


  • it doesn’t have many negative interactions with other drugs
  • its side effects are well-understood and well-tolerated.


As a bonus, it’s highly effective in combatting HSV, and thus not necessary to take as often as other alternative herpes treatments.


Purchasing Valacyclovir does require a prescription, which Roman can help you with online. Most Valacyclovir users speak highly of its effectiveness in eliminating cold sores. And when taken orally and as prescribed, Valacyclovir works quickly to slow the replication of the herpes virus. That’s a huge relief for many who fear symptoms flaring up into a highly visible outbreak.



Does Valacyclovir have any side effects?

This herpes treatment is a drug, and it does have side effects. One of the most important items to be aware of is the fact that Valacyclovir can harm your kidneys, so if you have kidney problems let the doctor know. Also let the doctor know if you are or will be pregnant or breast feeding, have HIV or are older than 65.

Other side effects to look out for (and tell your doctor about) are if you feel dizzy, get shaky, have confusion, unsteady movement, etc. Common side effects of valacyclovir tablets in adults include headache, stomach issues like nausea and vomiting. Some women may experience painful periods.


Thankfully, this drug is widely used and well understood – in fact, it’s one of the top 200 prescribed drugs in the United States according to Pharmacy Times!

What other common HSV medications?

Even though Valacyclovir is at the top of the list when it comes to cold sore and herpes treatment, it’s far from the only treatment available. One of the most common topical treatments for cold sores is known as Penciclovir, sometimes called Denavir in its over-the-counter cream form.



Denavir cream (which contains Penciclovir) is applied to the skin to treat frequent outbreaks. Unlike some other topical treatments, Denavir actually packs a punch when it comes to fighting oral herpes as opposed to just providing temporary external relief.


This is an antiviral cream that works to ease the discomfort while helping to keep oral herpes in check. It’s similar to other treatments that work against oral herpes in that it slows the growth of the virus and prevents it from spreading out of control in a short amount of time.


People who use Denavir generally describe it as highly effective and fast-acting when it comes to relieving pain associated with cold sores and for shortening the duration of outbreaks. Finding Denavir is mostly a matter of getting diagnosed by a doctor and getting a prescription because it’s not available over the counter in the U.S.


The cost of Denavir usually ranges from $812 to $856 for a single 1.5g tube. FDA package insert information for Denavir states that although it’s pretty well tolerated by most users, some unusual side effects like headaches, and rashes aren’t unheard of.

Acyclovir (Xerese, Zovirax)

This medication against cold sores is only effective at the beginning of a cold sore outbreak. Acyclovir is similar to some of the other treatments in that it helps reduce the length of cold sore rashes and also cuts back on the frequency of outbreaks by suppressing the oral herpes virus.


You’ll need to cough up something like $1,225.00 for one 5g tube of Xerese, so be sure to do your homework before buying the first one you see online. And by all means, please make sure it’s not a counterfeit product.


There are generic versions of this and other treatments available, so it may be a good idea to look into those as well. Burning or tingling in the area Acyclovir is applied is a possible side effect of this particular treatment, but this doesn’t seem to be very common among users.

Famciclovir (Famvir)

Famciclovir (also known as Famvir) is often prescribed as a cold sore treatment for people who are living with HIV. This is mainly because it has very low rates of interaction with other medications yet it’s relatively effective at treating cold sores and HSV-1.


Famciclovir acts in much the same ways the other treatments do to treat cold sores and to keep oral herpes in check. Taking Famciclovir during the first 60 minutes of an outbreak can speedily shorten the duration of the outbreak by about two days. This medication is taken orally in pill form and on average costs anywhere from around 16 to 25 dollars.

Roman’s cold sore treatments vs Hims & Lemonaid

The following table is to help give a better idea of how Roman’s prices for cold sore and herpes treatments stack up against some of their main competitors. Namely, Him’s and Lemonaid.

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Roman vs Hims vs Lemonaid: The Best Cold Sore & Herpes Treatment

Medications OfferedValacyclovirValacyclovirValacyclovir, Acyclovir, Famciclovir
HSV Conditions TreatedCold Sores, Genital HerpesCold SoresCold Sores, Genital Herpes
Online Doctor Consultation FeeFree$5$25
1 Month’s Cost of Medications$14 for outbreak treatmentsNot Available – 3 Month Plan Only$32.00, $12.00, $29.00
3 Month’s Cost of Medication$42 for quarterly outbreak treatments;
$87 for quarterly suppressive treatments
$45$50 / $50 / NA
Shipping / ProcessingFree$5Free
Cost to Get Started$42$50$37 to $75

The Verdict: Is Roman Legit for Herpes?

Today, there are a few cold sore and herpes treatment options that offer online doctor visits, diagnosis, prescription and fast delivery of FDA approved medicine. Roman, Hims, and Lemonaid each let patients visit with licensed doctors and can get low-cost, generic drugs to consumers quickly and discretely. 


It’s exciting that consumers now have affordable, legitimate options available online. But which do we recommend? The good news is that cold sore suffers, and folks with genital herpes, won’t go wrong with any of these providers.


While Lemonaid is best for patients who may want a drug other than Generic Valtrex (Valacyclovir), Roman is the best overall value given the free doctor’s visit, free shipping and low priced generic Valacyclovir. Click below to try Roman today!

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About the Author

Alex Goldberg

Alex worked at three early-stage startups before starting Fin vs Fin. Covering the rise of direct-to-consumer health, his mission is to help patients access better treatments online. He's also a husband, father, and UC Berkeley grad who enjoys golf, podcasts, live music, cooking, and home improvement.

Learn more
Alex Goldberg

Alex Goldberg

Alex worked at three early-stage startups before starting Fin vs Fin. Covering the rise of direct-to-consumer health, his mission is to help patients access better treatments online. He's also a husband, father, and UC Berkeley grad who enjoys golf, podcasts, live music, cooking, and home improvement.

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