Acyclovir is an antiviral drug sold under the name Zovirax or Zovir. It is one of the most widely used drugs for the treatment of herpes infections.
Acyclovir has been used to treat:
- Herpes simplex 1 cold sores
- Herpes simplex 2 Genital herpes
- varicella zoster shingles
- Chicken pox in immunocompromised individuals
- Ebstein barr virus
- Herpes infection of the eye
Despite being used for 2 decades, anti viral resistance to the drug is not common.
The drug can be taken in orally, applied on the skin and can even be injected in to the body.
The topical preparation is not of much help. The oral acyclovir is useful for both healthy and immunocompromised individuals with herpes infections. When taken early after the onset of the infection, acyclovir can prevent recurrence and shorten the time of infection period.
Acyclovir is available as a topical cream, IV injections and an eye ointment. There is also a cream preparation available for the genital herpes infection.
Side effects are rare but may include:
- nausea, vomiting
- hallucinations (at high doses)
- muscle and joint pains
- skin reactions
- confusion and lethargy (after IV)
When applied on the skin, acyclovir can cause dryness, burning or redness of the skin
When applied to the eye, it may cause a transient stinging sensation.
Acyclovir is not to be used during pregnancy
Acyclovir is an expensive drug.