Common brand names: Zovirax
Why is this drug prescribed?
Classified as an antiviral drug, acyclovir (also called aciclovir) is used to prevent infections caused by viruses, especially the herpes virus. Herpes virus infections can affect the skin, brain, genitals (sex organs), lips and mouth (“cold sores” or ulcers). Although acyclovir will not cure herpes, it will help relieve the pain and discomfort faster and will help the sores (if any) heal faster. Acyclovir is also used to treat chickenpox and shingles.
Transplant patients may develop these viruses due to the large amount of immunosuppressive drugs they must take.
How and when should acyclovir be used?
Acyclovir is generally taken in the form of tablets, capsules or suspension liquid (with small particles in it). It is also available as an injection or an ointment.
In order to treat the infection, acyclovir is generally taken several times a day. Your prescription label tells you how much to take at each dose and how often to take it — follow these instructions carefully and ask your pharmacist or doctor to explain any part that you do not understand. It is important that you take this medication regularly as prescribed; do not stop taking it without consulting your doctor.
Your dosage may be decreased or even stopped after several months, or when the infection has subsided.
What special instructions should I follow while using this drug?
- Before acyclovir is prescribed, tell your health care provider about any other prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking, especially:
- pain medicine containing acetaminophen and aspirin
- arthritis medicine or medicine to treat inflammation
- other medicine for infection
- Before acyclovir is prescribed, tell your health care provider if you have any medication allergies, kidney or nerve disease.
- This medication can cause lightheadedness and/or fatigue. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how it affects you.
- Keep taking acyclovir for the full time of treatment, even if you notice your symptoms improving after a few days.
- Be sure that you always have enough medication on hand. Check your supply before holidays or other occasions when you may be unable to fill your prescription.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so that your response to the drug can be monitored.
What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose.
What are the common side effects of this drug?
Acyclovir may result in any of the following side effects:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Skin reactions
What storage conditions are necessary for this drug?
- Store this medication at room temperature
- Do not store this medication in direct sunlight or in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause it to break down.
- Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly sealed.
- Keep it and other medications out of the reach of children.
When should I call my health care provider?
Contact your health care provider of your symptoms do not improve within a few days after taking this medication.
Call your health care provider right away if you:
- Experience persistent or severe side effects.
- Develop new symptoms after starting this medication.
- Have any other symptoms that cause concern.
- Have any questions or concerns.
For More Information
If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 216.444.6996. We will be happy to answer your questions.