Valtrex is indicated for the treatment of herpes zoster (shingles), for the treatment or suppression of genital herpes in immunocompetent individuals and for the suppression of recurrent genital herpes in HIV-infected individuals and is also indicated for the treatment of cold sores (herpes labialis).
Valtrex comes as a tablet to take it orally. It is usually taken every 8 hours (three times a day) for 7 days to treat shingles. To treat genital herpes it is usually taken twice a day for 5 days. For cold sores, Valtrex is usually taken for one day only. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Use this medication as soon as possible after symptoms appear. Continue to take Valtrex even if you feel well. Do not stop taking Valtrex without talking to your doctor.
Do not take Valtrex without first talking to your doctor if you are allergic to acyclovir (Zovirax). Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease or immune system problems. You may need a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment with Valtrex. Valtrex is in the FDA pregnancy category B. This means that it is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether Valtrex passes into breast milk and how it may affect a nursing baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
If you miss a dose of Valtrex, take it as soon as you remember and then take your next dose at its regular time. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not take the missed dose. Wait and take the next dose at the regular time.
Possible Side Effects
Kidney failure and nervous system problems are not common, but can be serious in some patients taking Valtrex. Nervous system problems include aggressive behavior, unsteady movement, shaky movements, confusion, speech problems, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are really not there), seizures, and coma. Kidney failure and nervous system problems have happened in patients who already have kidney disease and in elderly patients whose kidneys do not work well due to age. Always tell your healthcare provider if you have kidney problems before taking Valtrex. Call your doctor right away if you get a nervous system problem while you are taking Valtrex. Common side effects of Valtrex include headache, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and dizziness. Side effects in HIV-infected adults include headache, tiredness, and rash. These side effects are usually mild and usually do not cause patients to stop taking Valtrex. Other less common side effects include painful periods in women, joint pain, depression, low blood cell counts, and changes in tests that measure how well the liver and kidneys work.
Seek emergency medical treatment if an overdose is suspected. The symptoms of an overdose of Valtrex are not well known, but an overdose of acyclovir (Zovirax), which is a similar drug, may cause seizures, hallucinations, and kidney damage (decreased urine production).
Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people, even during treatment. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission. Valtrex will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Avoidance of sexual intercourse and use of latex condoms may prevent spreading the virus to others.