Acyclovir is an active antiviral medication given against the herpes simplex virus. The virus is one of the most common ones in today’s society. It is responsible for a wide plethora of infections. Some of the most common ones include genital and oral herpes. It can affect both children and adults. The medication can treat all kinds of infections – initial and recurrent. As the virus spreads quite easily, the necessity of an active medication becomes obvious. Chances are it will return at some point or another, so people around the infected patient should consider the potential treatment as well.
- Usage and Recommended Dosage
- Safety Standards and Contraindications
- Potential Allergies
- Treatment Duration
- Elder and Pregnancy Considerations
- Potential Side Effects
Usage and Recommended Dosage
Acyclovir should be used according to the doctor or pharmacist’s instructions. The medical prospect must be thoroughly considered as well, only for extra safety and education. The medication is available in several forms – including pills and creams. The topical one is more appropriate because its action is intense. It must be applied on the affected area about five times a day – at 3 or 4 hours. It should not be applied overnight though. The treatment must begin as soon as the infection kicks in. When it comes to recurrent episodes, the treatment must start as soon as the first wounds are noticed.
Acyclovir should be taken for 5 days. If you cannot notice any signs of improvement or the infection is not cured, the treatment can be extended with another 5 days. Discuss with your doctor before making any adjustments on yourself though. If you use more than you have to or you accidentally ingest the topical cream, get in touch with the doctor right away. If you forget to get a dose, apply the cream as soon as you remember, but not if there are less than 2 hours to the next one. Do not double up a doze to compensate for a missed one.
When it comes to tablets, Acyclovir is available in 200mg, 400mg and 800mg tablets. They should be swallowed with a glass of water. You should swallow them whole, without chewing or crushing them. This way, the tablet will gradually dissolve and release the active substance. If you experience problems, you can keep them in the water until they dissolve, then drink the result. The treatment depends on the condition, as well as its severity. Herpex simplex infections are treated with tablets on the same schedule as the topical cream. Some people can take the medication for prevention. At that point, the 200mg dose must be given at 6 hours for up to 12 months. The same recommendations are given to children.
The 800mg tablet is recommended to herpes zoster infections – also known as shingles. Chicken pox or varicella has similar requirements.
Acyclovir is based on aciclovir. This is the active ingredient. It is also used in other drugs (with different branded names), but in different doses. Do not make any treatment adjustments on yourself and do not even think about switching one medication for another without talking to your doctor first. Unexpected reactions may occur out of nowhere.
Always check the expiry date before taking the medication. Pills must be stored below 25 degrees Celsius, in a dry place. They should not be kept in direct sunlight. Keep them out of reach of children and pets. As for the topical solution, it can be stored inside the refrigerator.
When buying the medication, go through the informative prospect for more information regarding its uses and capabilities, even if you have already discussed with a doctor.
Safety Standards and Contraindications
Do not use Acyclovir if you are hypersensitive to any of its components or ingredients. Potential allergies can become severe if the drug is administered. When applied topically, do not let the cream get in touch with the oral, vaginal or conjunctive mucus. At the same time, the drug should not get into the patient’s eyes.
Tell your specialist doctor or pharmacist if you take other drugs or medications – including drugs available for over the counter sale and use. Even if you take medications for completely different purposes, active substances can react one with another, hence the necessity of discussing your situation with a professional.
Allergies occur in patients who are sensitive to aciclovir – the active substance. If any allergies occur, reach to your doctor right away. The substances in Acyclovir may also react negatively with other active substances, like cimetidine (ulcers), probenecid (gout), theoplylline (asthma) and zidovudine (HIV), among several others. This is why you have to mention every kind of medication you take. Doctors know better what to prescribe according to your current treatment.
The duration of an Acyclovir treatment varies widely, depending on the infection it causes. For the classic herpes simplex infection, the treatment expands over 5 days. This treatment is recommended to genital herpes, cold sores and other similar infections. It can be extended with another 5 days. For prevention, the treatment is longer and varies between half a year and a year. Specific adjustments might be applied to patients with impaired kidney function, as well as a weak immune system.
For the herpes zoster infection, the treatment is given over 7 days. Patients with various health problems or a weak immune system should stick to the treatment, yet the dosage is usually adjusted or reduced.
Finally, varicella or chicken pox demands 5 days of treatment. The same duration is applied to both adults and children, yet dosage and frequency depend on their age. Read the informative prospect if you are not 100% sure about the recommendations.
Elder and Pregnancy Considerations
There is not too much information regarding the use of Acyclovir in pregnant and nursing women. So far, no negative effects have been reported, so the medication is generally considered to be safe. If you are not sure, get in touch with your doctor or pharmacist for advice. According to current tests, the active substance does not transfer to the fetus – not even while breastfeeding.
As for elders, most specialists recommend reducing the dose, especially if patients suffer from renal affections. The medication is known to dehydrate, so it is imperative to drink more water than normally for the duration of this treatment.
Potential Side Effects
Every medication in the world can cause adverse reactions and Acyclovir makes no exception either. Luckily, most of these adverse reactions are mild or moderate. Some of the most common side effects include headaches, feeling sick, rashes, itching sensations, diarrhea or dizziness. They occur in about 10% of all patients. They are not too severe though. Uncommon adverse reactions (in 1% of the users) include severe itching, hair loss and red skin patches. Other more severe reactions affect less than 0.01% of all patients.
If you experience any unusual signs, get in touch with the specialist doctor and have the treatment readjusted. Allergic reactions are worth some attention too. Allergies normally imply swelling of the throat, lips, face or tongue. Inevitably, these reactions cause difficulty while swallowing or breathing. Luckily, allergic adverse reactions can be prevented upfront if you are aware of your sensitivities and mention them to your doctor.