Most people have had a cold sore at some point in their lives. Caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), cold sores are uncomfortable and embarrassing. But there is some good news. Valacyclovir, also known as Valtrex, an antiviral medication, can help shorten the duration of a cold sore outbreak.
In this blog post, we will review what to know about Valacyclovir for cold sores, including how it works and some of the possible side effects associated with the medication.
How does Valacyclovir Work?
Valacyclovir helps fight the herpes virus by preventing it from multiplying in the body and slowing it down. This enables the body to help in the natural defense against the spread of the virus, thereby reducing the length and occurrence of outbreaks. Valacyclovir does not cure herpes; rather, it reduces the symptoms of the disease.
Valacyclovir is a highly researched drug with a solid track record for efficacy and safety. It’s used to cure individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
Uses of Valacyclovir or Valtrex
Valacyclovir is FDA-approved and is most commonly used to treat Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infections, including both genital and oral herpes. Valacyclovir can also be used to treat Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) infections, including shingles and chickenpox.
In addition, Valacyclovir may be prescribed for other conditions, such as Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.
Treating Cold Sores with Valacyclovir
Cold sores usually go away on their own within two weeks. Although there is no cure for cold sores, Valacyclovir can help shorten the duration of an outbreak.
The medication is most effective when used at the first sign of a cold sore (tingle). To treat a cold sore, Valacyclovir should be taken as soon as possible after the tingle stage begins. The sooner you start taking Valacyclovir; the shorter your cold sore will be.
Valacyclovir or Valtrex is a kind of oral caplet. It’s available as a brand-name drug and a generic antiviral.
-For Children Aged 11 and Under
Valacyclovir is not a good option for treating cold sores in children under this age group. However, it can be used to treat chickenpox in children who are 2 years old or older.
-For children 12 years and older, as well as adults
The recommended dosage is 2 grams every 12 hours for a single day.
How Quickly does it Work?
Valacyclovir should start working within one day, but it might take several days for you to feel the full effects.
If you have a history of cold sores, you might find that Valacyclovir helps prevent them from coming back.
Tips for Taking Valacyclovir
Here are some tips to help make sure you get the most out of Valacyclovir:
-If you have been prescribed Valacyclovir, it is important to take the medication exactly as directed.
-The medication can be taken with or without food but should be taken with a full glass of water.
-Valacyclovir should be taken at evenly spaced intervals, and you should try to take it at the same time each day.
-It is important not to skip doses or stop taking the medication early, as this can make the virus more difficult to treat.
-Drink plenty of fluids while you are taking Valacyclovir, as this will help to keep your kidneys functioning properly.
Side Effects of Valacyclovir
Valacyclovir is generally well-tolerated, but like all medications, it can cause side effects. The most common side effects associated with Valacyclovir are:
-Nausea and vomiting
Less common side effects include:
-Allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat)
If you experience any of these side effects, it is important to contact your doctor. In rare cases, Valacyclovir can cause serious side effects, such as:
-Changes in mental state
If you notice any of these side effects, go to a hospital right away.
Warnings / Risks
Valacyclovir is generally considered to be safe for most people. However, there are some risks associated with the medication.
Valacyclovir can cause kidney problems, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids while you are taking the medication. If you have a history of kidney disease or if you are 65 years of age or older, you should speak to your doctor before starting Valacyclovir.
Valacyclovir can also cause liver problems. Before you begin taking Valacyclovir, be sure to tell your doctor about any liver diseases in your medical history.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should speak to your doctor before taking Valacyclovir. There is a potential risk of birth defects associated with the use of Valacyclovir in pregnant women.
If you’re breastfeeding, speak to your doctor before taking Valacyclovir. There is a potential risk of transmission of the virus to the baby through breast milk.
Valacyclovir can also cause seizures in some people. If you’ve had seizures in the past, always speak to your physician before taking Valacyclovir.
It is important to tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions and allergies before taking Valacyclovir.
Other Treatment Options for Cold Sores
If Valacyclovir is not a good option for you, there are other treatments that can be effective in treating cold sores. Other antiviral medications, such as acyclovir or famciclovir, can be used to treat cold sores. These medications can be taken orally or applied directly to the affected area.
There are also a number of home remedies that can be effective in treating cold sores. These include:
-Applying a lip balm or cream to the affected area
-Application of a cold, damp cloth to the affected area
-Avoiding spicy or acidic foods
-Drinking plenty of fluids
-Getting enough rest
If you are unsure about which treatment option is right for you, it is important to speak to your doctor.
Questions to Ask a Doctor about Valacyclovir
If you are considering taking Valacyclovir, there are a few questions you may want to ask your doctor. These include:
-Why do you think Valacyclovir is the best treatment option for me?
-What are the potential side effects of Valacyclovir?
-What are the risks associated with taking Valacyclovir?
-Is there anything I need to do to prepare for taking Valacyclovir?
-How long will I need to take Valacyclovir?
-What should I do if I experience any side effects while taking Valacyclovir?
-What are the other treatment options for cold sores?
These are just a few of the questions you may want to ask your doctor about Valacyclovir. It is important to make sure you understand all of the potential risks and benefits of taking Valacyclovir before starting the medication.
Valacyclovir for Cold Sores: Is it Right for You?
This medication may be right for you if:
-You have a history of cold sores
-Your doctor has recommended Valacyclovir as the best treatment option for you
This medication may not be right for you if:
-You are pregnant or breastfeeding
-You have a history of kidney disease
-You have a history of liver disease
-You have a history of seizures
-You are allergic to Valacyclovir or any other ingredient in the medication
It is important to speak to your doctor about all of your medical conditions and allergies before taking Valacyclovir. This will help your doctor determine if Valacyclovir is the right medication for you.
The Bottom Line
Valacyclovir is a prescription antiviral medication that is used to treat cold sores. Though Valacyclovir is mostly safe and effective, potential side effects exist. Therefore, it’s crucial that you understand these before taking the medication. You can also check our article on Is There a Link Between Cold Sores and Covid?
If you have any questions or concerns, make sure to speak with your doctor. They can help you weigh the risks and benefits of taking Valacyclovir and determine if it’s the right medication for you. And, as always, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking any medication.