Shingles Home > How Effective Is Famciclovir?

How Does the Medication Work?

Shingles, genital herpes, and cold sores are caused by viruses. Once a person has been infected with one of these viruses, it never goes away. The virus remains inactive in certain nerve cells of the body, waiting to become active again. Famciclovir helps the body fight the infection by preventing the virus from multiplying.
 

Effects of Famciclovir

Several studies have looked at how well famciclovir treats shingles, genital herpes, and cold sores.
 
Shingles
In studies that looked at using famciclovir for shingles, the drug helped lesions heal faster and helped reduce pain. The medication also helped to prevent nerve pain associated with shingles. These studies suggested that it is more effective when started within the first 48 hours after symptoms appear and that famciclovir works better in people over 50 years old.
 
Genital Herpes
Studies have also evaluated famciclovir for treating recurring genital herpes in people who experience more than six outbreaks per year. In these studies, taking the drug at the first signs of a genital herpes outbreak decreased the time until the lesions were healed and decreased the time until all the symptoms were gone.
 
Studies have also shown that taking famciclovir every day can help prevent recurring genital herpes outbreaks. One study in people with six or more outbreaks per year showed that after one year, 29 percent of people had not experienced a single outbreak, compared to only 6 percent of those not taking the medication.
 
Cold Sores
In previous studies, taking famciclovir within one hour of the onset of cold sore symptoms helped cold sores heal faster and decreased the time people experienced pain and tenderness.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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