Generic Name: acyclovir topical (a SYE klo veer)
Brand Name: Zovirax Topical
What is acyclovir topical?
Acyclovir topical (for the skin) is an antiviral drug. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus so that the body can fight off the infection.
Acyclovir topical cream is used to treat cold sores.
Acyclovir topical ointment is used to treat genital herpes lesions.
Acyclovir topical will not cure or prevent herpes, but it can lessen the symptoms of the infection.
Acyclovir topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about acyclovir topical?
Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using acyclovir topical?
You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to acyclovir or valacyclovir (Valtrex).
To make sure acyclovir topical is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
weak immune system (caused by disease or by using certain medicine).
FDA pregnancy category B. Acyclovir topical is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Herpes virus can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during your pregnancy so that you do not have a genital lesion when your baby is born.
It is not known whether acyclovir topical passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. You should not breast-feed if you have a herpes lesion on or near your breast.
Acyclovir topical should not be used on a child younger than 12 years old.
How should I use acyclovir topical?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Treatment with acyclovir topical should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (such as tingling, burning, blisters).
Wash your hands before and after applying acyclovir topical cream.
Apply only enough cream to cover the cold sore or tingly area. Rub in gently until the cream disappears. Acyclovir topical cream may be applied 5 times daily for 4 days. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Wear a glove or a finger cot or use a cotton swab when applying acyclovir topical ointment to avoid spreading the virus to other body parts and to other people.
Apply only enough ointment to cover the genital lesion(s) completely. This medication may be applied every 3 hours up to 6 times daily. Acyclovir topical ointment may be applied every 3 hours, up to 6 times daily for 7 days. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Use this medication for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared.
Lesions caused by herpes viruses should be kept as clean and dry as possible. Wearing loose clothing may help to prevent irritation of the lesions.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Since this medication is applied to the skin, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid while using acyclovir topical?
Avoid getting this medication in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If this does happen, rinse with water. When treating a cold sore, apply the medication only the outer part of your lips.
Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people, even while you are being treated with acyclovir. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Avoid touching an infected area and then touching your eyes. Wash your hands frequently to prevent passing the infection to others.
Acyclovir will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Avoid sexual intercourse or use a latex condom to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Acyclovir topical side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Common side effects may include:
dry, cracked, or peeling lips;
dryness or flaking of treated skin;
burning, stinging, or itching when the medicine is applied.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Acyclovir topical dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Herpes Simplex Labialis:
Cream: Apply to the affected area 5 times a day for 4 days. Therapy should be started as early as possible following onset of signs and symptoms (i.e., during the prodromal phase or when lesions appear).
Usual Adult Dose for Herpes Simplex:
Ointment: Apply to affected area every 3 hours, 6 times a day for 7 days. Therapy should be started as early as possible following onset of signs and symptoms.
Usual Pediatric Dose for Herpes Simplex Labialis:
12 years or older: Apply to the affected area 5 times a day for 4 days. Therapy should be started as early as possible following onset of signs and symptoms (i.e., during the prodromal phase or when lesions appear).
Usual Pediatric Dose for Herpes Simplex:
Children: Apply to affected area every 3 hours, 6 times a day for 7 days. Therapy should be started as early as possible following onset of signs and symptoms.
What other drugs will affect acyclovir topical?
It is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on topically applied acyclovir. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
More about acyclovir topical
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about acyclovir topical.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.01.
Last reviewed: October 30, 2014
Date modified: January 10, 2017