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?
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?
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 herpes remotely?
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 cost?
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.