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Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Your solution for tackling genital herpes symptoms

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Valacyclovir (generic Valtrex) is a prescription antiviral drug used to treat certain viral infections, such as herpes. It provides effective relief of symptoms and speeds up the recovery process.

Read on to find out how this medicine works, its possible side effects, and if it's right for you.

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Valacyclovir FAQs

What is Valacyclovir (Valtrex)?

Valacyclovir is an antiviral medication used to treat cold sores and genital herpes, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It also treats varicella-zoster virus (VZV, herpes zoster), which causes chickenpox and shingles.

It is available in the form of caplets and when taken, reduces the severity and duration of symptoms from viral infections. It is most effective when used at the first signs of an infection.

In the United States, Valacyclovir is the active ingredient and generic medicine in the brand ‘Valtrex’. A generic contains the same active ingredient as a brand but is often more affordable. Generics and branded medicines may also have different added ingredients.

How does Valacyclovir work?

Valacyclovir is a ‘prodrug’ of Acyclovir. This means that when Valacyclovir enters the body, it is rapidly converted into Acyclovir which is effective against HSV types 1 and 2 and VZV.

The drug works by specifically targeting the virus cells that are responsible for the growth and replication of the viral DNA. This stops the growth of the virus and prevents it from spreading.

It is important to note that Valacyclovir will not cure the HSV infection. Once you are infected with the virus, it will continue to live in the body even between outbreaks.

Although Valacyclovir cannot cure the infection, it helps to reduce the severity and length of these outbreaks. It may relieve the pain and uncomfortable symptoms, help the sores heal faster and prevent new sores from forming. It can also be taken to prevent outbreaks of the infection.

Acyclovir vs Valacyclovir

Valacyclovir and Acyclovir are both effective antiviral drugs. However, the main difference is that Valacyclovir works in the body for a longer amount of time. This means that you don't have to take it as often each day compared to Acyclovir.

How should Valacyclovir be taken?

Take this medicine exactly as instructed by your healthcare provider. Your dose and length of treatment will depend on the type of herpes infection you have and any other medical conditions you have.

Valacyclovir works best when started at the first sign of an outbreak, it may not work as well if you start taking this treatment too late (e.g. 1 to 2 days after your symptoms begin).

This medicine can be taken with or without food. You must drink lots of water while you are taking this medicine to reduce the risk of kidney-related side effects.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for the missed dose.

Do not stop taking this medicine or change your treatment without talking to your doctor.

What dosages are available and which one is right?

Valacyclovir comes in two doses, 500mg and 1000mg tablets. Although there are only two doses, there are several ways to use the medicine for different indications.

Here at SpeedyHealth, our doctors can prescribe Valacyclovir (Valtrex) for cold sores and the treatment of genital herpes. The recommended Valacyclovir dosages can be found below:

Genital herpes (herpes genitalis)
Initial episode Take Valacyclovir 1 gm (2 of the 500mg tablets) twice daily for 10 days.
Recurrent episodes Take one 500mg tablet twice daily for 3 days.
Prevention Take one 500mg tablet once daily.
An alternative option is taking two 500mg tablets once daily (in patients with normal immune function).

For cold sores:

  • Take 2 grams (4 of the 500mg tablets) twice daily for 1 day, taken 12 hours apart.

Who can and cannot take Valacyclovir?

You should not take this medicine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to Valacyclovir, Acyclovir, or any of the added ingredients.

To ensure this medicine is safe and suitable for you, tell your doctor if you:

  • Have kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
  • Have had a kidney transplant or bone marrow transplant;
  • Have HIV;
  • Have other conditions that can weaken the immune system;
  • Are 65 years or older (older adults may be at more risk of getting certain side effects)

If you have some of these conditions, your doctor may change your dose of this medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant it is recommended that you speak to your doctor for an alternative. Valacyclovir can pass into breast milk and may harm your baby, therefore tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.


Valacyclovir can harm your kidneys. This effect is increased when you also use other medicines that can affect the kidneys, such as:

  • Aminoglycosides
  • Methotrexate
  • Ciclosporin
  • Tacrolimus
  • Cimetidine
  • Probenecid

There may also be interactions with medicines such as:

  • Antivirals
  • Cancer medicine
  • Antibiotics
  • Lithium
  • Medicines used to prevent organ transplant rejection
  • Certain pain or arthritis medicines

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Is it safe to combine Valacyclovir and alcohol?

It's best to avoid alcohol during treatment with Valacyclovir. Both Valacyclovir and alcohol can individually cause side effects like dizziness, drowsiness and nausea. When combined, these effects can be stronger.

What are Valacyclovir’s side effects?

As with all prescription medication, there is a small risk of side effects. However, the most common side effects are usually mild and go away on their own with time.

Common side effects of Valacyclovir include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling sleepy or tired

Contact a healthcare professional immediately if you experience any serious side effects, such as:

  • Signs of kidney problems (a change in the amount of urine, blood in the urine, lower back pain)
  • Feeling agitated or confused
  • Shaky or unsteady movements (tremors)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)

More severe side effects of Valacyclovir are rare, but these symptoms should not be ignored.

For a full list of side effects, please refer to the patient information leaflet which is included with your medication order.

Can I buy Valacyclovir (Valtrex) online?

Valacyclovir (Valtrex) 500mg tablets are available to purchase on prescription at SpeedyHealth for the treatment of genital herpes and cold sores.

To make sure you are suitable for treatment, you will have to fill out a quick and easy medical questionnaire. This will then be reviewed by one of our registered doctors.

Once approved, your medication will be dispensed and dispatched discreetly to your address.