Shingles Home > What Is Acyclovir Used For?
Acyclovir is used for the treatment of shingles, chickenpox, and genital herpes. All of these conditions are caused by a virus, and the medication helps relieve symptoms by preventing the virus from multiplying. There are also "off-label" acyclovir uses, such as the treatment of other types of viral infections and the prevention of chickenpox in those who have been exposed to the virus.
This article focuses on the oral forms of acyclovir.
Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is caused by a virus (the varicella zoster virus). It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Most people infected with this virus experienced chickenpox when they were children. The body never completely gets rid of the virus, however, and it remains inactive in certain nerve cells in the body. Later in life, often triggered by stress or illness, the virus can become active again, causing shingles.
Symptoms of shingles may include a rash (usually on only one side of the body) and burning or tingling pain. The rash typically forms blisters that may break and ooze. If this happens, you may be able to spread the "shingles virus" to people who have never had chickenpox. Shingles pain can be severe, and can continue long after the rash is gone (known medically as postherpetic neuralgia).
(Click Shingles Symptoms for more information about signs and symptoms of shingles.)
When acyclovir is used for the treatment of shingles, it can help the shingles rash heal more quickly. However, the medication is not a cure for shingles, as the virus will always remain in your body and may become active again.