What Is Valacyclovir Used For?
Valacyclovir is used to treat shingles, chickenpox, cold sores, and genital herpes. Although the drug cannot cure these conditions, it can help prevent recurrent genital herpes outbreaks and decrease the spread of the virus. In addition, valacyclovir is used for the treatment of blisters and rashes that occur as a result of the infection. Off-label uses include the treatment of chickenpox and other viral infections.
Valacyclovir hydrochloride (Valtrex®) is a prescription medicine licensed to treat several conditions related to infections with the herpes virus. These valacyclovir uses include:
- Treating shingles
- Treating cold sores
- Treating genital herpes
- Treating chickenpox
- Preventing recurrent genital herpes outbreaks
- Decreasing the spread of herpes to sexual partners.
Using Valacyclovir for Shingles
Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Most people become infected with this virus as children. However, the body never completely gets rid of it, and the virus 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. Usually, the rash 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 quite severe and can continue long after the rash is gone (a medical condition known as postherpetic neuralgia).
(Click Shingles Symptoms for more information about signs and symptoms of shingles.)
When valacyclovir is used to treat shingles, it can help the shingles rash heal more quickly. However, it will not change the length or severity of postherpetic neuralgia. Valacyclovir is not a cure for shingles, as the virus will always remain in your body and may become active again.