Valacyclovir is a medication utilized for the treatment of viral infections caused by certain types of viruses. In children, it is prescribed for cold sores around the mouth caused by the herpes simplex virus and chickenpox resulting from the varicella-zoster virus. In adults, it is commonly prescribed for shingles caused by the herpes zoster virus and cold sores around the mouth. Valacyclovir is also an effective treatment for outbreaks of genital herpes, reducing the occurrence of future episodes in people who experience frequent outbreaks.
As an antiviral drug, valacyclovir effectively inhibits the growth of specific viruses. It does not cure these infections as the viruses that cause them remain in the body even between outbreaks. The medication significantly reduces the severity and duration of outbreaks, facilitating faster healing of sores, prevention of new sores from forming, and relief from associated pain and itching.
Uses and Dosage
Valacyclovir should be taken orally, with or without food, in accordance with your doctor’s instructions. To reduce the risk of side effects, consume plenty of fluids during the course of treatment.
The dose and duration of treatment depend on the type of infection, your medical condition, and your response to therapy. For children with chickenpox, the dosage is also determined by their body weight.
This medication is most effective when started at the initial sign of an outbreak, as per your doctor’s advice. Delaying treatment may diminish its effectiveness. In the case of shingles or chickenpox, start taking valacyclovir at the first symptom or as soon as the rash appears. For cold sores or genital herpes, initiate treatment at the first indication or as soon as you feel tingling, itching, or burning.
Valacyclovir produces the best results when the drug concentration in the body is maintained at a consistent level. Take the medication at regularly spaced intervals, and to help remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.
Continue taking the medication until the entire prescribed amount is consumed. Do not alter your dose, skip any doses, or discontinue this medication before completion without your doctor’s approval.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- body aches or pain
- difficulty in moving
- ear congestion
- heavy bleeding
- loss of voice
- muscle aches
- muscle pain or stiffness
- nasal congestion
- pain in joints
- sore throat
- stuffy or runny nose
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- feeling sad or empty
- lack of appetite
- loss of interest or pleasure
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
Prior to taking valacyclovir, inform your doctor or pharmacist of any allergies you may have, particularly to valacyclovir, acyclovir, or any other allergies. This medication may contain inactive ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction or other complications.
Before using this medication, disclose your medical history, particularly if you have kidney problems, to your doctor or pharmacist.
This medication may infrequently cause dizziness. Consuming alcohol or marijuana may intensify this effect. Refrain from driving, operating machinery, or performing any activities that require vigilance until you can do so safely.
Older adults may be more sensitive to this medication’s adverse effects, especially changes in mood/mental state (such as confusion, agitation), and kidney problems (such as alterations in urine output).
Valacyclovir does not prevent the spread of herpes. To minimize the risk of transmitting genital herpes to your partner, avoid sexual contact during an outbreak or when symptoms are present. Genital herpes can be spread even when symptoms are not present.
During pregnancy, this medication should be taken only if absolutely necessary. Discuss the potential risks and benefits with your doctor.
This medication enters breast milk but is unlikely to cause harm to a nursing infant.
Form and Strength
Valtrex is available in the following forms and strengths:
How long does it take for Valtrex to work?
It can take up to 7 to 10 days for Valtrex to start working for some people, while others may feel relief from their symptoms after a day or two.
Are you contagious after taking Valtrex?
It’s important to keep in mind that Valtrex is not a cure for genital herpes. And contagious lesions or shedding may still occur while taking the medication.