Acyclovir - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Acyclovir: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Acyclovir?

Acyclovir (ACV), also called aciclovir, is an antiviral drug primarily used to treat the herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, chickenpox, and shingles. It works by killing the growth and spread of the herpes virus. Acyclovir is available as buccal tablets, capsules, and suspension. It also comes in the form of cream and ointments to apply over the skin. Importantly, it is a prescription drug and may also be used for other virus infections, as determined by your doctor.

What Are the Uses of Acyclovir?

The main uses of Acyclovir include the following:

  • Treatment of cold sores on lips.
  • Treatment of genital herpes.
  • Treatment of chickenpox and shingle.
  • Protection against infections such as cold sore and genital herpes, if you had them before.
  • Protection against HPV if you have a weak immune system.

Further, Acyclovir is not a direct cure for herpes. It only helps in reducing the symptoms, pain, and blisters and speeds up the healing process.

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What Are the Side Effects of Acyclovir?

Acyclovir is a well-tolerated, safe antiviral drug. The common side effects are as follows:

  • Headache.
  • Diarrhea and stomach pain.
  • Rashes.
  • Skin reaction after exposure to light.
  • Tiredness and Dizziness.
  • Fever.
  • Feeling faint, especially when standing up.

While the side effects are usually mild, consult your doctor if you develop severe symptoms. Reach out to our medical expert advisors at Yashoda Hospitals to know more about the necessary precautions, uses, dosage, and side effects of Acyclovir.

What is Acyclovir

Uses of Acyclovir

Side effects of Acyclovir

S.no Product Name Dosage Form
1. Acivir DT Acyclovir 200mg/ 400mg/ 800mg Tablet
2. Acivir Acyclovir 3% Eye Ointment
3. Zovirax Acyclovir 200mg/ 400mg/ 800mg Tablet
4. Ocuvir Acyclovir 5% w/w Skin Cream
5. Herpex Acyclovir 5% Cream


Frequently Asked Questions about Acyclovir

1. How Long Does It Take for Acyclovir to Work?

Acyclovir begins to work within 24 to 48 hours after you start taking it. It may take four or five days for symptoms to reduce, but you should continue consuming the medication until the prescribed course is complete. It will help to reduce the chance of reoccurrence.

2. How Much Acyclovir to Take for Cold Sores?

Acyclovir is available only on prescription. Therefore, you must consult your doctor before using it to treat a cold sore.

  • Tablet: For treating cold sores, the usual dose is one 200 mg tablet taken five times a day, spread across four hours. Generally, the suggested timings are 7 am, 11 am, 3 pm, 7 pm, and 11 pm.
  • Cream or ointment: If you use Acyclovir cream for cold sores, doctors will recommend using the specified amount five times a day.

3. Is Acyclovir an Antibiotic?

No, Acyclovir is an antiviral medicine that treats viruses by slowing down their growth and spread in the body. On the other hand, antibiotics are the drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Because Acyclovir only works against specific viruses and not bacteria, it is not an antibiotic.

4. Can You Take Acyclovir Long Term?

Yes, you can take Acyclovir long term. In some conditions, such as recurring genital herpes, your doctor may prescribe the oral form Acyclovir for more than 10-months. The drug has shown a positive response and successfully controlled HPV recurrences without reporting noticeable side effects in the long term.

However, always seek advice from a physician for long-term use. Regular visits to your doctor are necessary to screen for side effects.

5. Does Acyclovir Expire?

Acyclovir that you get from the pharmacy will have an expiration date on the package. The potency of Acyclovir will start decreasing from the day of manufacture. Medicines retaining their efficacy after their expiry date depends on many factors, such as storage, manufacturing, and packaging. Note that taking expired Acyclovir is not at all safe and may be toxic.

6. Can You Take Acyclovir While Pregnant?

Acyclovir is generally not recommended during pregnancy unless your physician has confirmed that the benefits outweigh the risks. Doctors may recommend it during pregnancy for treating severe, recurrent episodes of genital herpes, particularly during the second and third trimesters. If you become pregnant while taking this medicine, contact your physician immediately.

7. Can Acyclovir Treat Bacterial Infection?

No, Acyclovir is an antiviral medicine. It is used to treat infections caused by certain viruses, such as herpes simplex or herpes zoster. As the medicine works by slowing down the growth and spread of viruses in the body, it has no action on bacteria.

8. Does Acyclovir Cause Weight Gain?

No, Acyclovir does not typically cause weight gain. Weight changes are not commonly reported with the use of Acyclovir. However, if you observe a weight gain during the medication course, you should seek advice from your consulting doctor. They may prescribe you another choice of medicine.

9. Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Acyclovir?

Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking Acyclovir, but it should be well controlled and in moderation. Alcohol may not directly interact with Acyclovir, but when you drink too much of it, you may experience headaches or nausea. Doctors recommended not to drink alcohol to get the maximum benefit of the treatment and give your body the best chance for fast recovery.

Get in touch with our medical experts at Yashoda Hospitals to learn more about the essential precautions, uses, dosages, and side effects of Acyclovir.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.