Acyclovir

Acyclovir is an antiviral medicine used to treat shingles lesions and nerve pain, genital herpes, and chicken pox. Try taking this medicine with food if it bothers your stomach.

Acyclovir Overview

Reviewed: October 30, 2012
Updated: 

Acyclovir is a prescription medication used to treat infections caused by the varicella-zoster and herpes viruses. Acyclovir belongs to a group of drugs called nucleoside analogues, which work by stopping the spread of herpes virus in the body.

Acyclovir comes in a tablet, capsule, and oral suspension form, and is to be taken 2 to 5 times a day with or without food.

Acyclovir comes in a buccal tablet that is applied as a singe dose to the upper gum region. Do not crush, chew, suck or swallow buccal tablets.

This medication is additionally available in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) by a healthcare professional.

Acyclovir also comes as an ointment and cream forms. The cream is to be applied 5 times daily for 4 days, and the ointment is applied 6 times per day for 7 days.

Common side effects of acyclovir tablet, capsule, suspension, and injectable include nausea and vomiting.

Common side effects of acyclovir buccal tablet include headache and application site pain.

Common side effects of acyclovir cream and ointment include dry, cracked lips and dry skin, and general skin irritation at site of application.

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  • Aids-related Opportunistic Infections
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  • Epstein-barr Virus Infections
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  • Herpes Labialis
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Acyclovir Cautionary Labels

precautions

Uses of Acyclovir

Oral/Injectable:

  • Acyclovir capsule, tablet, oral suspension, and injectable are prescription medications used to treat infections caused by the varicella-zoster and herpes viruses. Infections include chickenpox, genital herpes, and cold sores.

Topical:

  • Acyclovir ointment is a prescription medication used to treat genital herpes and in certain herpes simplex virus infections in  patients with lowered immunity (immunocompromised).
  • Acyclovir cream is a prescription medication used to treat herpes labialis (cold sores) in those 12 years of age and older.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Acyclovir Brand Names

Acyclovir may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Acyclovir Drug Class

Side Effects of Acyclovir

Oral:

  • Common side effects of oral acyclovir include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headache.

Buccal tablets:

  • Common side effects include headache and application site pain.

Injectable:

  • Common side effects of injectable acyclovir include nausea, vomiting, and itching at site of injection.

Topical:

  • Acyclovir is well-tolerated medication.
  • The most common skin-related side effects are dry or cracked lips, flakiness or dryness of skin, a burning or stinging feeling, or itching of the skin at site of application.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist about any concerns about this medication.

Tell your doctor about any side effect that is severe or does not go away.

This is not a complete list of side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

 

Acyclovir Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take probenecid (Probalan).

This is not a complete list of acyclovir drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Acyclovir Precautions

Oral/Injectable:

  • Acyclovir should be used with caution if you have neurologic (nerve), kidney, liver, or electrolyte abnormalities, or if you have significant hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in the body).
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome (TTP/HUS) has occurred in patients with weakened immune systems. TTP/HUS is a serious blood disorder that occurs with worsening kidney function.
  • Do not take this medication if you are allergic to acyclovir, valacyclovir, or to any of its ingredients.

Topical:

  • Do not use if you are allergic to acyclovir, Valtrex (also known as valacyclovir), or any of the ingredients in this medication.

Acyclovir Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of acyclovir there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet.

Inform MD

Before you start using acyclovir, tell your doctor if you are:

  • have kidney problems
  • pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding
  • allergic to acyclovir or any other medication

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

 

Acyclovir and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

Acyclovir falls into category B. There are no well-done studies that have been done in humans with acyclovir. But in animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication, and the babies did not show any medical issues related to this medication.

Acyclovir and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if acyclovir is excreted in human breast milk or if it will harm your nursing baby.

Acyclovir Usage

Oral:

  • Take acyclovir exactly as prescribed.
  • Acyclovir also comes in a tablet, capsule, and oral suspension form, and is to be taken 2 to 5 times a day with or without food.

Buccal tablet

  • Buccal tablet is applied as a single dose to the upper gum region within one hour after the onset of cold sore symptoms and before the appearance of any signs of cold sores.
  • Do not crush, chew, suck or swallow buccal tablets.

Injectable:

  • This medication is available in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) by a healthcare professional.

Topical:

  • Acyclovir CREAM is most effective when used early, at the start of a cold sore. For best results, apply the CREAM at the first sign of a cold sore (such as tingle, redness, bump, or itch).
  • Wash your hands before using acyclovir.
  • Apply acyclovir to clean, dry skin.
  • Apply a layer of acyclovir to cover only the cold sore or cover only the area of tingling (or other symptoms) before the cold sore appears.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after applying acyclovir. This should remove any medication left on the hands.
  • Use only on your affected skin.
  • Do not swallow acyclovir ointment or cream. Do not apply to the eyes, inside the mouth or nose, or on unaffected skin.
  • Do NOT use acyclovir CREAM for genital herpes.
    • Acyclovir ointment may be prescribed to treat genital herpes, however.
  • Do not cover the cold sore area with a bandage or dressing unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Do not apply another type of skin product (for example, cosmetics, sun screens, or lip balms) or other skin medication to the cold sore area while using ayclovir ointment or cream unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Avoid irritation of the cold sore area while using ayclovir ointment.
  • Do not bathe, shower, or swim right after applying ayclovir ointment. This could wash off the medicine.

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of acyclovir at the same time.

Acyclovir Dosage

Oral:

Acyclovir also comes in a tablet, capsule, and oral suspension form, and is to be taken 2 to 5 times a day with or without food.

Buccal tablet:

Acyclovir buccal tablet is applied as a single dose to the upper gum region within one hour after the onset of cold sore symptoms and before the appearance of any signs of cold sores.

Injectable:

This medication is additionally available in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) by a healthcare professional.

Topical:

This medication also comes as an ointment and cream forms. The cream is to be applied 5 times daily for 4 days, and the ointment is applied 6 times per day for 7 days.

Acyclovir Overdose

If you take too much acyclovir, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If acyclovir is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.