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Valaciclovir is an antiviral tablet which is used to treat infections from the herpes simplex virus (HSV). If taken at the first sign of an outbreak, it can cut the outbreak short or stop it completely. It simply involves taking a tablets twice per day, and so is a straightforward and convenient treatment.
There are two types of herpes infections. HSV-1 causes cold sores around the mouth. HSV-2 causes genital herpes. Valaciclovir is highly effective against both strains of the virus. The HSV causes blisters and scabs on the mucous tissues of the mouth and genitals. Valaciclovir helps existing blisters to heal and prevents the virus from spreading.
Valaciclovir is closely related to aciclovir, another antiviral tablet. In fact, the Valaciclovir tablet is converted into aciclovir when it is metabolised. This makes Valaciclovir a prodrug. It attacks the HSV in the same way as aciclovir, but delivers the antiviral agent more efficiently. This means that fewer capsules need to be taken.
The branded version of Valaciclovir is called Valtrex. The active ingredient in each is identical, but unbranded Valaciclovir is significantly cheaper. Valtrex previously had the patent and rights to exclusive distribution of Valaciclovir, but that patent has since expired. There is now very little difference between the two, apart from appearance, packaging and inactive ingredients. At The Independent Pharmacy, we still provide Valtrex, because some patients prefer a branded version even if it contains an identical active ingredient.
Valaciclovir should be taken as soon as symptoms of HSV are present. It is most effective when taken 24-48 hours following an outbreak. It can be taken with or without food.
Valaciclovir comes in 500mg tablets. The recommended dosage will depend on your history with HSV.
Continue to take Valaciclovir for the recommended duration of treatment, even if you notice symptoms clearing up. This will help fully clear the outbreak. Do not skip doses, unless it is nearly time for the following dose. Never double your dose.
Many patients choose to take Valaciclovir while also using lidocaine ointment to treat the blisters on the skin. Lidocaine is effective and rarely involves any side effects.
Ensure that you remain fully hydrated while taking Valaciclovir. This is especially important for elderly patients.
Not everyone will experience side effects when they take Valaciclovir, however if you do they can include:
Headache, Dizziness, Nausea, Diarrhoea, Skin reactions after exposure to sunlight (photosensitivity)
If you are concerned about these effects, or if the product affects you in any other way, stop using it and talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Reading the following warnings carefully will help to ensure you are selecting an appropriate product.
Valaciclovir reduces the chance of transmitting the herpes virus. However, it is important to avoid unprotected intercourse when the virus is active.
If you plan on taking Valaciclovir, consult your GP if you are over the age of 65, have a history of liver or kidney problems, or otherwise have a weak immune system.
Likewise, inform your GP and pharmacist if you are taking any medication which affects the kidneys, including:
Please read all packaging and the Product Information Leaflet before taking any new medicine and inform your doctor of medicines you are taking or intend to take.
The active ingredient in Valaciclovir 500mg tablets is Valaciclovir hydrochloride.
These tablets also contain the following inactive ingredients to make up the complete product:
Cellulose, Microcrystalline, Crospovidone (Type A), Povidone (K-90), Magnesium stearate
The film coating contains: Hypromellose 6cP, Indigo carmine aluminium lake (E132), Titanium dioxide (E171), Macrogol 400, Polysorbate 80
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