What is Valaciclovir?
Valaciclovir is an antiviral medicine used to treat infections with herpes viruses. The active ingredient valaciclovir works by stopping the virus from reproducing and infecting more cells. This controls the infection and helps the immune system to deal with it. Valaciclovir is a prescription-only medicine.
What is Valaciclovir used for?
Herpes viruses cause infections such as:
- Cold sores (herpes simplex): a burning or tingling sensation on or around the lips that develops into painful, fluid-filled blisters with scabs.
- Genital herpes (herpes simplex): an STD that causes itching, pain, blisters with scabs on the genitals.
- Shingles: painful rash caused by the herpes zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. The condition is characterised by pain and itching, typically on one side of the body, followed by redness of the skin and blisters.
Valaciclovir blocks the action of the herpes simplex and the herpes zoster virus and provides short-term relief from symptoms. Once infected, the herpes virus stays in the body. Valaciclovir is therefore also used to prevent recurrences.
How to use Valaciclovir
Valaciclovir tablets should be swallowed whole without chewing with plenty of liquid, preferably at the same time each day. The tablets can be taken with or without food. Always complete the prescribed course. Typical courses range from one to 10 days. Longer courses may be indicated for certain infections or to prevent re-infection.
Valaciclovir is available in various strengths. The recommended dose for treating cold sores and genital herpes is:
- Adults and children aged 12 and above: 500 mg to 2000 mg twice a day for as long as the doctor prescribes.
The recommended dose for treating singles is:
- Adults: 1000 mg three times a day for as long as the doctor prescribes.
Always follow the prescribed dosage and read the package leaflet closely before you use this medicine.
This medicine may cause side effects, including:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea or stomach ache;
- Increased sensitivity of the skin to UV light.
Consult a doctor if the side effects are severe or persistent. For more information, see the package leaflet.
When not to use Valaciclovir
Valaciclovir is not suitable for everyone. Do not use this antiviral medicine if:
- You are allergic to valaciclovir or any other ingredient in this medicine.
Consult a doctor on the use of Valaciclovir if you are older than 65 years of age, have a kidney or liver disease or other health problems. It is also important to tell the doctor what other medicines you are taking when you order to avoid potential interaction.
Valaciclovir should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
This medicine may affect your ability to react. If you feel dizzy, drowsy or your alertness is affected in any other way you should avoid potentially hazardous tasks such as driving.
Do not drink alcohol while taking this medicine as this is likely to trigger or worsen the side effects.