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    Herpes suppression treatment (Aciclovir)

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    What is herpes suppression treatment?

    Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes an uncomfortable rash of red blisters. Herpes can’t be cured and won’t go away with treatment; however, the symptoms can be managed. Herpes outbreaks repeatedly happen, usually every couple of months. If you want to prevent or reduce the frequency of these outbreaks you can take herpes suppression treatment.

    How herpes suppression tablets work

    Aciclovir is an antiviral that works to prevent the herpes virus from multiplying. Taking it regularly reduces the frequency of genital herpes outbreaks.

    How to take Aciclovir for herpes suppression

    Take 1 tablet 2 times a day for 3 months. We usually recommend that you continue Aciclovir herpes suppression treatment for 1 year.

    If you forget to take a tablet, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it's nearly time for your next one, skip the missed dose. Do not take 2 tablets to make up for a forgotten dose.

    How effective is herpes suppression treatment?

    If you have 6 or more outbreaks of genital herpes per year, this treatment should result in fewer, less severe or even no outbreaks. Aciclovir suppression treatment is only effective if taken regularly and correctly, as prescribed.

    Aciclovir tablets could also be used to reduce the severity of blisters.  

    Side effects of herpes suppression treatment

    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
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhoea
    • Stomach pains
    • Tiredness
    • Itching
    • Rash 

    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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      Herpes suppression treatment (Aciclovir) FAQs

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      What causes herpes outbreak after years?

      Once you have the herpes virus it stays in the body. After the first year of having the virus, outbreaks become less often and severe. However, you can have an outbreak after some time of not having one. As symptoms can be triggered by:

      • Stress
      • Using sunbeds
      • Smoking
      • Alcohol
      • Tight clothing
      • Sex
      • Being unwell
      • Your menstrual cycle

      How long does a herpes outbreak last?

      The first herpes outbreaks you have after you’ve been infected may last between 2 to 4 weeks. However future outbreaks don’t usually last that long. They are usually less severe. Also, some people may never have another episode of symptoms.

      How much Aciclovir do I need to suppress herpes?

      The recommended dose is 1 400mg tablet twice a day for 3 months. You can continue the treatment for a year to suppress herpes symptoms.  

      Is it safe to take Aciclovir long term?

      Studies have shown that Aciclovir is safe to take in the long term. It’s recommended that you use the treatment for a year to suppress herpes outbreaks.

      Dr Bhavini Shah: “Drink plenty of water while taking this medicine to help support your kidney function."

      If you do experience any unwanted side effects speak to your doctor or send our clinicians a message in your Patient Record. 

      How is herpes transmitted?

      Herpes is passed from person to person through skin-to-skin contact. This can include: 

      • Kissing
      • Oral sex
      • Vaginal sex
      • Anal sex
      • Fingering
      • Sharing sex toys 

      The virus is most contagious when the sores are open and weeping. Although you can still get herpes when no blisters are visible.

      Can I drink alcohol on Aciclovir?

      Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking Aciclovir. You can also eat as you normally would. It’s recommended that you drink plenty of water.

      Can you take Aciclovir tablets when pregnant?

      Aciclovir are not harmful for your baby if you take them whilst pregnant. However, your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you on taking Aciclovir herpes suppression treatment if you’re pregnant. 

      Important information about Aciclovir

      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 a HIV blood test.

      Can you take other medicines whilst taking herpes suppression treatment?

      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.

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