Aciclovir Tablets

Antiviral Genital Herpes Treatment

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Cost-effective anti-viral treatment for current and future outbreaks of herpes.
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What is Aciclovir and how does it work?

Aciclovir is an antiviral medication used to treat herpes infections, including genital herpes. Although it cannot be cured, aciclovir tablets help to control and suppress herpes. The medication decreases the severity of a herpes outbreak by preventing the virus from multiplying, thereby also reducing the duration of the infection.

How do I take Aciclovir?

The recommended dose of Aciclovir for genital herpes is 400mg and it works best if you take it at the first sign of symptoms. Swallow one tablet whole with water three times a day, for 5 days. For suppressing genital herpes, Aciclovir 400mg should be taken twice a day. Neither alcohol nor food affect the mechanism of Aciclovir. Do not take this medication if you are pregnant.

Make sure you keep hydrated during the treatment as the effects of Aciclovir are quite hard on the kidneys.

How effective is Aciclovir?

If taken as soon as a herpes outbreak has begun, Aciclovir can reduce the duration and severity of the outbreak. It can also suppress recurring outbreaks by 80%.

What is Herpes?

Herpes is the name given to a family of viral infectious diseases. The most common virus within this family is Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), the cause of oral herpes and genital herpes. Symptoms of these infections include itching, soreness, tingling, and red bumps which develop into painful crusty sores. Whilst the first outbreak is generally most severe, recurring outbreaks may still occur as the virus lies dormant in the body for life. Whilst there is no cure for the condition, the anti-viral medications aciclovir and valaciclovir may be used to treat genital herpes outbreaks, or even be taken regularly to reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Read more about Herpes here.

Living with Herpes

If you have recently been diagnosed with genital herpes, you may be feeling angry or concerned. However, it is important to know that it is a very common condition, and there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the impact it has on your life. If you do suffer from pain, over-the-counter painkillers may help, as well as soaking the area in warm water. Otherwise the area should be kept dry, and cotton breathable underwear worn. It is important to be open with sexual partners about the diagnosis, and always wear a condom, as the infection may be spread even when there are no symptoms. Whilst there is no cure for the disease, other prescription medications such as aciclovir and valaciclovir can reduce the severity and/or frequency of outbreaks. Read more here.

Do I need to tell my partner?

Herpes is a common viral infection, caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. Many people ask whether they should tell their partner if they are infected. It is a highly contagious disease, which is most commonly transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact with the affected area during an outbreak. However, as the virus lies dormant in the body for life, transmission of the virus may still be possible when a person has no symptoms. Therefore you should always be open and honest with your partner about sexual history and diagnoses, and take steps to minimise transmission, such as always wearing a condom, and abstaining from sex during active outbreaks. Read more here.


FAQs (skip)

What is Aciclovir?

Aciclovir, also known as Acyclovir, is an antiviral medication primarily used to treat the herpes simplex virus. It is available as an outbreak treatment or as a suppression treatment. It is the most commonly used treatment for genital herpes in the UK.

How does Aciclovir work?

Aciclovir works by preventing the herpes simplex virus from multiplying. This reduces the severity of the infection and decreases the chance of further spreading. When being used for suppression, the low but constant dose of Aciclovir works to suppress the virus in your system, helping to prevent any outbreaks.

How long does it take for Aciclovir tablets to work?

Aciclovir starts working immediately after you take the tablet. It should be taken three times per day for five days if treating an outbreak. If using Aciclovir for suppression, it should be taken twice a day. This antiviral medication is most effective if taken within 48 hours of initial symptom onset.

How many Aciclovir tablets should I take?

Aciclovir should be taken one tablet at a time. For a genital herpes outbreak treatment, three 400mg tablets should be taken per day, with at least 6 hours between each dose. When taking Aciclovir for suppression, two 400mg tablets should be taken each day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Can you drink alcohol when taking Aciclovir?

Both food and alcohol have no effect on the mechanism of Aciclovir in the body, however it is best to consult your GP when taking Aciclovir for specific guidance and further advice. It is generally not recommended to take both Aciclovir and alcohol at the same time as both medications can cause lightheadedness.

Can you take Aciclovir when pregnant?

If you are pregnant and believe you have genital herpes, you should inform your doctor or midwife as soon as possible so that they can offer further guidance and advice.

What strength of Aciclovir do I need?

The dose of Aciclovir offered by Pharmica for treating genital herpes is 400mg. There is also a 200mg version of the tablet, however we do not currently provide this as the number of tablets you are required to take is much higher and thus gives a larger risk of accidentally missing a dose. Outbreak treatment requires you to take the one 400mg tablet three times per day, while suppression treatment is one 400mg tablet taken twice per day.

What is the difference between Aciclovir and Acyclovir?

Aciclovir and Acyclovir are different names for the same antiviral medication. Aciclovir is the British English spelling, and Acyclovir is the American English spelling. Aciclovir (Acyclovir) is primarily used to treat the herpes simplex virus and is available in both an outbreak treatment and a suppression treatment.

Can I buy Aciclovir tablets over the counter?

In the UK, Aciclovir 200mg, 400mg and 800mg in tablet form is only available on prescription. The medication must be prescribed by a GP or independent prescriber and then fulfilled by a licensed pharmacy. It is possible to purchase Aciclovir through Pharmica following an online consultation. Aciclovir is available over the counter as a cream under the brand name Zovirax.

 

The most common side effects of Aciclovir are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Skin rashes

 Information Leaflet

Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.

Important: We advise you to always read the patient information leaflet inside the medication box, as the generic medication may not always entirely match the patient information leaflet listed. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Written and reviewed by our qualified team

GPhC Number: 2088658

Carolina Goncalves

Authored by:

Carolina Goncalves
Superintendent
Pharmacist

GPhC Number: 2225869

Rehma Gill

Reviewed by:

Rehma Gill
Pharmacy
Manager

Find out more about how we ensure the accuracy of our content with our content guidelines.

Content last updated: 05 Apr 2023

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