Lake Dermatology

Acyclovir, Oral

Acyclovir

Acyclovir(Zovirax®) is an antiviral medication that is available by prescription only.

Acyclovir works by stopping the spread of viruses in the body. Acyclovir works against the varicella virus that causes chickenpox and shingles and the herpes virus that causes genital herpes (HSV-2) and cold sores around the mouth (HSV-1).

Acyclovir is commonly prescribed in the following cases:

  • for those with chickenpox (varicella) to decrease the pain and increase the healing speed of chickenpox blisters.
  • for those with shingles (zoster) to decrease the pain and increase the healing speed of skin lesions. (Zoster is a painful rash that tends to occur in adults who were previously infected with chickpenpox as children.)
  • for those infected with the herpes virus (HSV), including herpes of the skin (cold sores) and genital herpes. The use of acyclovir increases the healing speed of first-time or repeat outbreaks of herpes lesions.
  • for those previously infected with the herpes virus (HSV) who want to prevent outbreaks of herpes lesions. When used to prevent future outbreaks, acyclovir must be taken every day for many months at a time.
  • for those with a weakened immune system, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, to prevent infection with the herpes or varicella virus.

Acyclovir will not cure herpes or chickenpox and may not stop the spread of viruses to other people, but it will reduce the duration of illness.

Taking Acyclovir

Acyclovir is available as a tablet, a capsule, and a liquid suspension. It is usually taken with or without food two to five times a day for 5 to 10 days, starting as soon as possible after your symptoms begin.

When acyclovir is used to prevent outbreaks of genital herpes, it may be recommended for use for several months.

Take acyclovir exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.


Reference: National Library of Medicine