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    Genital herpes treatment (Aciclovir)

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    What are Aciclovir tablets?

    Aciclovir tablets are used to treat genital herpes outbreaks and symptoms. Sometimes spelt as Acyclovir, the tablets reduce the severity of the blisters caused by herpes.

    If you have previously been diagnosed with genital herpes you can select your preference for a single or double course of treatment.

    How does Aciclovir work as a treatment for genital herpes?

    Aciclovir is an antiviral that works to prevent the herpes virus from multiplying. This reduces the severity of the infection. Although no treatment will fully cure herpes it can help to manage outbreaks. Making them shorter and less uncomfortable.

    How to take Aciclovir tablets for genital herpes

    Taking genital herpes treatment:

    Start taking Aciclovir as soon as you feel an outbreak starting.

    • Take 1 tablet 3 times a day for 5 days.
    • You can take Aciclovir with or without food. You should drink plenty of liquids while taking this treatment.  

    Make sure to complete the course of treatment.

    If you haven't been diagnosed with herpes previously but think you may have herpes, use our photo assessment service.

    How effective is Aciclovir for genital herpes?

    This treatment is for acute outbreaks of genital herpes only.

    If taken within 5 days of the start of an outbreak, Aciclovir should shorten your outbreak by 1-2 days and make the symptoms less severe. It might even prevent the outbreak if taken early enough.

    There is no cure for herpes, so it may return. This treatment does not affect how often you get future outbreaks, or how severe they will be. However, you can minimise the inconvenience and discomfort of the outbreaks by considering herpes suppression treatment

    Side effects of Aciclovir tablets

    A small number of people will experience some side effects when taking Aciclovir, however these are generally mild and should pass quickly. These may include:

    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhoea
    • Tiredness

    For full information on side effects and correct use, see the patient information leaflet. If any side effects concern you, contact us via your Patient Record.

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      Genital herpes treatment (Aciclovir) FAQs

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      What is Aciclovir mainly used for? 

      Aciclovir is mainly used to treat genital herpes. It can decrease the severity of an outbreak in 1-2 days. It’s an antiviral medicine which can also treat other infections, such as cold sores and eye infections.  

      How long do Aciclovir tablets take to work?

      Although there is no cure for herpes, a treatment like Aciclovir can help with outbreaks. Aciclovir tablets should be taken at the start of an outbreak. Symptoms can start to improve in 1 to 2 days and if taken early it may even prevent an outbreak.  

      Why do you need to drink lots of water with Aciclovir? 

      Drinking lots of water while taking Aciclovir is important. This helps your kidneys to keep working well, helping you to avoid dehydration.  

      Can I drink alcohol on Aciclovir?

      Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking Aciclovir. You can also eat and drink normally, although staying hydrated is important.    

      What is the best time of day to take Aciclovir?

      You should try and space your doses of Aciclovir throughout the day. Your clinician will let you know how many times a day to take the tablet, this is usually between 2 and 5 times a day. If you take Aciclovir 3 times a day you could:

      • Take it first thing in the morning, at midday then at bedtime 

      What is the difference between Aciclovir and Acyclovir?

      Aciclovir and Acyclovir are the same product. The only difference is in the spelling; Aciclovir is the British recognised name whereas Acyclovir is the United States adopted name.

      Can I buy Aciclovir tablets over the counter?

      No, Aciclovir tablets are only available with a prescription. If suitable, you can get a prescription for these tablets through an online consultation. You’ll need to answer some questions and our clinicians will make sure they’re safe for you to use. 

      You can buy Aciclovir cream over the counter at your local pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist for more advice.  

      Important information about Aciclovir tablets

      We cannot prescribe Aciclovir if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

      Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). We recommend that you regularly screen for STIs. Frequent herpes outbreaks may indicate a weakened immune system, which can be caused by HIV. Know your status by taking an HIV blood test.

      Can you take other medicines whilst taking Aciclovir?

      Aciclovir might interact with other medicines. It is important that you let us know which prescription, over-the-counter medicines and recreational drugs you are taking so that we can prescribe Aciclovir safely.

      Alternative treatments for genital herpes

      We can prescribe a local anaesthetic gel, Instillagel, which can be used alongside Aciclovir to help reduce the pain of genital herpes outbreaks.

      If you have more than 6 outbreaks of herpes each year, you may be suitable for suppressive treatment.

      Find the right STI treatment for you
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