Acyclovir (By mouth)

Introduction

Acyclovir (ay-SYE-kloe-vir)

Treats herpes virus infections, including shingles (herpes zoster) and genital herpes (herpes simplex). Also treats chickenpox. This medicine will not cure herpes, but may prevent a breakout of herpes sores or blisters.

Brand Name(s)

Zovirax

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to acyclovir or to similar medicines such as famciclovir (Famvir®), ganciclovir (Cytovene®, Vitrasert®), valacyclovir (Valtrex®), or valganciclovir (Valcyte?).

How to Use This Medicine

Capsule, Tablet, Liquid

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Take this medicine at the first sign of a herpes breakout, or as soon as possible after you are diagnosed with herpes zoster. The medicine may not work if you wait longer than 3 days to start using it.
  • You may take this medicine with or without food.
  • Drink extra fluids so you will pass more urine while you are using this medicine. This will keep your kidneys working well and help prevent kidney problems.
  • Shake the oral liquid thoroughly before each use. Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Tell your doctor if you are receiving any medicines that weaken the immune system (such as steroids, chemotherapy, or radiation).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease or a weak immune system. Some things that cause a weak immune system are cancer chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, recent infection, or recent bone marrow or kidney transplant.
  • Acyclovir will not stop the spread of herpes during sex. Avoid having sex while you have herpes sores.
  • Even if you have no signs of a herpes infection, it is still possible to spread the virus to others during sex. Talk with your doctor about ways to keep from spreading the virus.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call your doctor.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash.
  • Confusion, agitation, behavior changes.
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Fainting or extreme weakness, problems with walking or coordination.
  • Pinpoint red spots on your skin.
  • Unexplained fever.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising, blood in your urine or stools.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Headache, muscle pain.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or upset stomach.
  • Nervousness or tired feeling.
  • Problems with vision.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

         
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