In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 51 patients with recurrent herpes simplex labialis were treated with topical ether or placebo within 24 hours of onset of a lesion. There was no noteworthy difference between groups given ether and placebo in progression of lesions, healing time, duration or intensity of pain, and duration or quantity of virus excretion. The ether also failed to reduce appreciably lesion virus titer, even when lesions were cultured immediately after topical application. Despite these results, 75% of the patients receiving ether and 77% of those receiving placebo reported effective reduction of the severity and duration of lesions. The marked placebo effect in the treatment of recurrent herpes infection helps to emphasize the need for objective measurements and placebo-controlled studies.
(JAMA 243:1059-1061, 1980)