Acyclovir vs. Valacyclovir

December 26, 2020

Zovirax (acyclovir) and Valtrex (valacyclovir) are antiviral medications. They are used against the following viruses:

  • Herpes zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles
  • Herpes simplex, the cause of cold sores and genital herpes

Viruses attack by taking over a cell’s nucleus, where new DNA is made, forcing it to make viral DNA instead. Acyclovir is what is known as a nucleoside analog. Acyclovir is similar to a nucleoside called guanosine, and can replace it in DNA. Once acyclovir replaces guanosine, DNA replication of the virus stops.

Valacyclovir turns into acyclovir in the body, and it can be taken less frequently than acyclovir.

Both acyclovir and valacyclovir should be started as early as possible after the symptoms appear to be more effective, ideally within 72 hours.

Acyclovir may be taken orally in the form of:

  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Suspension
  • Liquid

Acyclovir oral dosages are as follows:

  • For chicken pox–800 mg four times per day for 5 days
  • For genital herpes or cold sores–200 mg 5 times a day for 10 days
  • For shingles–800 mg 5 times a day for 7 to 10 days

Injectable acyclovir is given into a vein usually in the hospital settings for bad infections that are for example affecting the brain.

Acyclovir cream or ointment is applied to lip or genital lesions 5 times per day for 4 days.

Valacyclovir is available in the form of tablets.

  • Chickenpox–dose is determined by patient’s weight, usually not over 1000 mg 3 times a day
  • Cold sores–1000 mg twice a day for one day
  • Genital herpes–1000 mg twice a day for 10 days
  • Shingles–1000 mg 3 times a day for 10 days

Neither acyclovir nor valacyclovir cures viral infection, but both treat signs and discomfort of an acute herpes infection and cut down on time that patients are contagious.

Did you know? QuickMD can treat viral infections from the convenience of your home, and provide you with a prescription for valacyclovir online (or alternatively acyclovir).

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