What is valacyclovir?
Valacyclovir is an antiviral suppressive approved by the FDA to treat herpes simplex,
which is categorized into two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Valacyclovir works by blocking the
virus' polymerase enzyme. By doing so, the medicine is able to stop the herpes simplex
virus from building DNA and replicating itself. This reduces the severity of your cold
sores and flare-ups, as well as the ability for the virus to transfer between hosts. The
active ingredient in valacyclovir is valacyclovir hydrochloride.
What is valacyclovir used for?
Valacyclovir is used to treat shingles, genital herpes, and cold sores. It does not cure
herpes infections but decreases pain and itching, helps sores to heal, and prevents new
ones from forming.
Valacyclovir can be used to treat genital herpes and oral herpes in several
ways, depending on the goal. It can be used to:
- Treat initial and recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes
- Treat initial and recurrent outbreaks of oral herpes
- Prevent outbreaks of genital herpes
- Prevent outbreaks of oral herpes (an “off-label” use)
- Decrease the risk of transmitting herpes to a partner by decreasing viral shedding
(viral shedding is when the virus is found on the skin or mucous membranes. This can
occur without symptoms and is called asymptomatic shedding)
What is a cold sore?
Cold sores are blisters most often found on or around the mouth caused by the herpes
simplex virus, which is categorized into two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. They are also
referred to as fever blisters or oral herpes.
How do you take valacyclovir
for cold sores?
For adults treating cold sores, the typical dose of valacyclovir is 2,000 mg, with a
secondary dose of 2,000 mg 12 hours later.
How long does valacyclovir take
to work on cold sores?
Valacyclovir works best when taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms and will reduce
your symptoms in about 2-3 days.
Healthcare providers generally may prescribe the drug for an unapproved use when they
judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient. This type of prescribing is
called “off-label” prescribing. Off-label prescribing practices are sometimes validated
by clinical experience and research and may be a widely recognized clinical practice.
Rex MD-affiliated providers have the discretion to prescribe certain drugs off-label
based on a patient’s unique medical history, symptoms, and preferences.
Is there suppressive therapy
for cold sores?
Your doctor may prescribe valacyclovir for cold sore suppressive therapy. This is an
off-label use of the drug, which means that the FDA hasn’t yet approved valacyclovir as
a suppressive treatment for cold sores. Healthcare professionals are allowed to
prescribe FDA-approved medications for off-label uses if they think it is the best
course of treatment for their patient. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions
about using valacyclovir for cold sore suppression.
Note on Off-label Use: Healthcare providers generally may prescribe the
drug for an unapproved use when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their
patient. This type of prescribing is called “off-label” prescribing. Off-label
prescribing practices are sometimes validated by clinical experience and research and
may be a widely recognized clinical practice. Rex MD-affiliated providers have the
discretion to prescribe certain drugs off-label based on a patient’s unique medical
history, symptoms, and preferences.
Is valacyclovir effective for
Genital herpes medication is available, and it works extremely well. But it requires you
to dedicate the time to learn about your condition and work with your physician or nurse
practitioner to craft the ideal, personalized treatment plan.
When you do, you’ll be able to identify the first indication of your specific symptoms
(prodrome) and use your medication to shorten or stop the outbreak from occurring.
What are the side effects of
Valacyclovir is generally well tolerated when taken as directed by a doctor. Side effects
may include headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, or vomiting. It is important to
stay well hydrated while taking valacyclovir to avoid these symptoms. If any of these
side effects persist or worsen, please contact your doctor.
Can a clinician treat genital
Yes. If your genital herpes has been diagnosed by a physician, our healthcare
professionals can prescribe medication and help you dial in the most effective treatment
plan for your unique needs.
Healthcare professionals on the Rex MD platform use telemedicine technologies to treat
you in the same way they treat patients in-person. Doctors ask you questions to evaluate
your symptoms and make sure it’s safe and appropriate to prescribe medication. The
healthcare professionals on the Rex MD platform use your answers to assess your
condition and create a treatment plan. That’s why it’s vital you answer each question to
the best of your knowledge and ensure that every communication with your physician and
nurse practitioner is truthful, accurate, and thorough.
Do I need to take a photo of my
genital herpes outbreak?
No. But you do need to have your genital herpes previously diagnosed by a physician.
How much does a doctor’s visit
Your online visit costs $5. This doesn’t include the cost of your medication (if
prescribed). If a physician determines you’re not a good candidate for treatment with
valacyclovir, you’ll get a full refund for your online visit.