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Acyclovir Vs Valacyclovir

Acyclovir Vs Valacyclovir

About acyclovir vs valacyclovir

Acyclovir is an antiviral drug that helps treat chickenpox, genital herpes, and shingles infections. It is most effective when started within 48 hours of symptom onset.

Valacyclovir is an antiviral drug that helps treat herpes and varicella-zoster infections. It should be started as soon as possible after symptom onset and only needs to be taken twice a day.

Acyclovir versus Valacyclovir – Which is Better?

While Acyclovir is more commonly prescribed, Valacyclovir does have a faster effect and also lasts longer than Acyclovir. However, the effectiveness of both drugs is dependent upon how quickly you take them and how severe the outbreak is. Both drugs have similar side effects and work in the same way. However, Valcyclovir does have a higher rate of drug interactions, so see your doctor and determine which treatment is best for you.

Treatment for Shingles: Acyclovir versus Valtrex

There is no cure for shingles currently, but there are two drugs on the market that help make the symptoms less severe when an attack occurs. Antiviral medications are typically used to lessen the severity of the attack. Two of the latest treatments for shingles include Acyclovir and Valtrex, medications that are commonly used to fight the herpes virus in all its forms.


Acyclovir is the generic name for Zovirax. Acyclovir is one of the first and most widely used antiviral treatments for the herpes simplex virus, which produces cold sores, and the herpes zoster virus, which presents as shingles. Acyclovir comes in three forms: Intravenous, oral, and topical applications. The intravenous solution is typically used for severely patients or those with immune disorders such as HIV/AIDS.

Acyclovir works to suppress the herpes virus by disrupting its ability to reproduce in the nerve cells. In 1980 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Acyclovir to treat primary and recurrent episodes of herpes and shingles infections. Scientific studies showed few side effects (less than 1% of test subjects experienced any ill effects) of the medication and there are no current drug interactions specified for the drug. Side effects of the medication could include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Tiredness

Patients who are at risk of dehydration, or that have kidney problems should not take the drug.

Some studies have actually shown that Acyclovir may also work to repress the virus that causes HIV/AIDS, but more research needs to be done.

The medication, as prescribed by a doctor, should be given one hour after the emergency of the shingles virus and the dosage varies from 200 to 800 mg. taken somewhere between three to five times a day.


Now let’s look at Valacyclovir, or Valtrex, which is the brand name for this antiviral drug. The FDA approved Valacyclovir in 1995. In 2009, the generic version of Valtrex, called Valacyclovir, was released.

Like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir cannot cure herpes, but it can stop the outbreak by attacking and preventing the virus from replication in human nerve cells. According to research studies, Valacyclovir appears to be absorbed more quickly, which means it is administered less frequently than Acyclovir. Apart from this difference, Valacyclovir works in the same manner with the same efficacy as Acyclovir.

Another benefit of Valacyclovir is that it serves as an alternative to Acyclovir if the patient doesn’t respond to a dosing of Acyclovir. Valacyclovir may be eliminated completely if the patient responds and they are symptom-free for four months.

Like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir has a low incidence of side effects, however, the patient could experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Unlike Acyclovir, Valacyclovir may interact with other drugs, such as IV antibiotics, cancer medications, methotrexate, arthritis medications, and more. Always check with a physician about possible drug interactions as part of your treatment regimen.

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