Acyclovir: Uses & Side Effects

Acyclovir is an antiviral drug. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus in the body. It will not cure herpes, but it can lessen the symptoms of the infection. Acyclovir is used to treat infections caused by herpes viruses, such as genital herpes, cold sores, shingles, and chicken pox, as well as varicella (chickenpox), and cytomegalovirus.

How should I take acyclovir?

Take acyclovir exactly as it was prescribed for you. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Treatment with acyclovir should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (such as tingling, burning, blisters).

Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

To take the acyclovir buccal tablet (Sitavig):

  • Keep the tablet in its blister pack until you are ready to take it. Use a dry finger to remove the tablet.
  • Do not chew or swallow a buccal tablet. Place the flat side of the tablet against your upper gum, behind your lip and above your canine tooth. Place the tablet on the same side of the mouth as your cold sore.
  • Close your mouth and gently press on the outside of your lip over the tablet, holding it in place for 30 seconds. Avoid touching or pressing on the tablet once it is in place.
  • Allow the tablet to dissolve in your mouth throughout the day. You may eat and drink normally while the buccal tablet is in place.
  • During the first 6 hours of wearing time: If the tablet falls off or does not stick well, the same tablet should be repositioned immediately. If the tablet cannot be repositioned, a new tablet should be placed. If you accidentally swallow the tablet, drink a glass of water and put a new tablet in place.

Tell your doctor if you have any changes in weight. Acyclovir doses are based on weight (especially in children and teenagers), and any changes may affect the dose.

Drink plenty of water while you are taking acyclovir to keep your kidneys working properly.

Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely treated. Acyclovir will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold.

Lesions caused by herpes viruses should be kept as clean and dry as possible. Wearing loose clothing may help to prevent irritation of the lesions.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Precautions

You should not take this medicine if you are allergic to acyclovir or valacyclovir (Valtrex). You should not take acyclovir buccal tablets (Sitavig) if you are allergic to milk proteins.

To make sure acyclovir is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • kidney disease.
  • a weak immune system (caused by disease or by using certain medicine).

Acyclovir is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Herpes can be passed to your baby during childbirth if you have a genital lesion when your baby is born. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during pregnancy. Take your medicine as directed to best control your infection.

Acyclovir passes into breast milk, but is considered compatible with breast feeding. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby while taking this medication.

Use in younger children is not recommended due to potential risk of choking.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction to acyclovir: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • easy bruising or bleeding, purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin.
  • signs of a kidney problem -little or no urinating; painful or difficult urination; swelling in your feet or ankles; feeling tired or short of breath.

Common acyclovir side effects may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • General ill feeling.
  • Headache.
  • mouth pain while using an acyclovir buccal tablet.

Interactions

Acyclovir can harm your kidneys. This effect is increased when you also use certain other medicines, including probenecid, antivirals, chemotherapy, injected antibiotics, medicine for bowel disorders, medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection, injectable osteoporosis medication, and some pain or arthritis medicines (including aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use acyclovir only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Keywords: acyclovir.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.