Generic Name: acyclovir (ay-SYE-kloe-vir)
Brand Name: Zovirax
Acyclovir is used for:
Treating herpes and shingles infections.
Acyclovir is an antiviral. It works by stopping viral replication. However, acyclovir does not eliminate the virus, is not a cure, and does not prevent transmission to others.
Do NOT use acyclovir if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in acyclovir or to valacyclovir
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using acyclovir:
Some medical conditions may interact with acyclovir. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
- if you are dehydrated or have a low blood volume, kidney disease, or liver disease
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with acyclovir. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Medicines that may harm the kidney (eg, aminoglycoside antibiotics [eg, gentamicin], amphotericin B, cyclosporine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs] [eg, ibuprofen], tacrolimus, vancomycin) because the risk of kidney side effects may be increased. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines might harm the kidney
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if acyclovir may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
How to use acyclovir:
Use acyclovir as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Acyclovir is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using acyclovir at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use acyclovir. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
- Do not use acyclovir if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
- Drinking extra fluids while you are taking acyclovir is recommended. Check with your doctor for instructions.
- Start treatment as early as possible following the onset of signs and symptoms of herpes infections.
- To clear up your infection completely, use acyclovir for the full course of treatment. Keep using it even if you feel better in a few days.
- Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal. Always use for injections.
- If you miss a dose of acyclovir, use it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use 2 doses at once.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use acyclovir.
Important safety information:
- Acyclovir may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or changes in vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use acyclovir with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- Acyclovir may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting; alcohol, hot weather, exercise, or fever may increase these effects. To prevent them, sit up or stand slowly, especially in the morning. Sit or lie down at the first sign of any of these effects.
- Acyclovir may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to acyclovir. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
- Acyclovir does not eliminate the virus and is not a cure. It does not prevent transmission of the virus to others.
- Acyclovir is not a cure for herpes simplex infections. Avoid sexual intercourse when visible lesions are present to prevent infecting your partner.
- Use acyclovir with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially confusion, drowsiness, or hallucinations.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using acyclovir while you are pregnant. Acyclovir is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use acyclovir, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.
Possible side effects of acyclovir:
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Changes in vision; dizziness; drowsiness; nausea; sensitivity to sunlight.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); aggressive behavior; agitation; blood in the urine; confusion; dark urine; decreased consciousness; decreased urination; fatigue; fever; hallucinations; lower back pain; pain or redness at the injection site; painful urination; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; seizures; stomach pain; tremors; unusual bleeding or bruising; urination problems; vomiting; yellowing of the eyes or skin.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.Proper storage of acyclovir:
Acyclovir is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using acyclovir at home, store acyclovir as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep acyclovir out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about acyclovir, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Acyclovir is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take acyclovir or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about acyclovir. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to acyclovir. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using acyclovir.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.
More acyclovir resources
- acyclovir Buccal mucosa Advanced Consumer (Micromedex) - Includes Dosage Information
- Acyclovir Professional Patient Advice (Wolters Kluwer)
- Acyclovir Monograph (AHFS DI)
- Zovirax Prescribing Information (FDA)
- Zovirax Oral, Intravenous Advanced Consumer (Micromedex) - Includes Dosage Information
- Zovirax Consumer Overview