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Valacyclovir is an antiviral drug. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus to help the body fight the infection.
Valacyclovir is used to treat infections caused by herpes viruses, including genital herpes, cold sores and shingles (herpes zoster) in adults.
Valacyclovir is used to treat cold sores in children who are at least 12 years old, or chickenpox in children who are at least 2 years old.
Valacyclovir will not cure herpes and will not prevent you from spreading the virus to other people. However, this medicine can lessen the symptoms of an infection.
Before taking valacyclovir, tell your doctor if you have HIV/AIDS, a weak immune system, kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis), or if you have had a kidney or bone marrow transplant.
Valacyclovir can be harmful to the kidneys, and these effects are increased when it is used together with other medicines that can harm the kidneys. Tell your doctor about all other medications you are using. You may need dose adjustments or special tests when taking certain medications together with valacyclovir.
Treatment with valacyclovir should be started as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (such as tingling, burning, blisters).
Valacyclovir will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people even while you are taking this medicine.
Stop taking valacyclovir and call your doctor right away if you have any signs of a serious side effect that can harm red blood cells, such as: fever, easy bruising or bleeding, red spots on the skin (not related to herpes or chickenpox), bloody diarrhea, vomiting, pale or yellowed skin, weakness, fainting, or urinating less than usual or not at all.
You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to valacyclovir or acyclovir (Zovirax).
To make sure valacyclovir is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
- HIV/AIDS, or other conditions that can weaken the immune system; or
- a history of kidney transplant or bone marrow transplant.
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. However, 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.
Valacyclovir can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give valacyclovir to a child without medical advice.