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Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

acyclovir (topical)

Pronunciation: a SYE klo veer

Brand: Zovirax Topical

What is the most important information I should know about acyclovir topical?

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

What is acyclovir topical?

Acyclovir topical (for the skin) is an antiviral medicine that is used to treat skin symptoms caused by the herpes virus.

Acyclovir topical cream is used to treat cold sores on the lips and face.

Acyclovir topical ointment is used to treat genital herpes lesions.

There is no cure for herpes and acyclovir will not prevent you from developing symptoms in the future.

Acyclovir topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using acyclovir topical?

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to acyclovir or valacyclovir (Valtrex).

Acyclovir topical is not approved for use by anyone younger than 12 years old.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had a weak immune system (caused by disease or by using certain medicine).

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. However, herpes virus can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during your pregnancy, so that you do not have a genital lesion when your baby is born.

You should not breastfeed if you have a herpes lesion on or near your breast.

How should I use acyclovir topical?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin.

Start using acyclovir as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms (such as tingling, burning, blisters).

Wash your hands before and after applying this medicine.

Apply only enough cream to cover the cold sore or tingly area.

Apply only enough ointment to cover the genital lesion(s) completely. Wear a glove or a finger cot or use a cotton swab when applying the ointment to avoid spreading the virus to other body parts and to other people.

Acyclovir topical cream is usually applied 5 times daily for 4 days. Acyclovir topical ointment is usually applied 6 times daily for 7 days. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of acyclovir topical is not expected to be dangerous. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

What should I avoid while using acyclovir topical?

Avoid getting this medication in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If this does happen, rinse with water. When treating a cold sore, apply the medication only to the outer part of your lips.

Avoid using other medications on the areas you treat with acyclovir topical unless your doctor tells you to.

Using this medicine will not prevent you from passing genital herpes to other people. Herpes infections are contagious and you can infect other people even while you are using acyclovir.

Avoid sexual intercourse or use a latex condom to help keep you from spreading the virus to others. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Avoid touching an infected area and then touching your eyes. Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of infection.

What are the possible side effects of acyclovir topical?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Common side effects may include:

  • dry, cracked, or peeling lips;
  • dryness or flaking of treated skin;
  • burning, stinging, or itching when the medicine is applied.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect acyclovir topical?

Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about acyclovir topical.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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