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Acyclovir (Zovirax) is one of the most popular drugs in the world because its action is directed against the following virus that is found in more than 95% of the world’s population: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1). The most famous manifestation of this virus is bubbles on the lips.

The drug also treats herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV 2), which causes genital herpes, and against herpesvirus type 3, which involves a primary infection that causes chickenpox and a potential subsequent outbreak that leads to very unpleasant shingles. Acyclovir is less effective against other viruses of the herpes group.

How does it work

The mechanism of action of acyclovir is rather complicated. This substance penetrates only into cells that are infected with the virus. It “confuses” the active component of the drug with guanine (the building material of the cell) and integrates it into its DNA which makes it impossible for the virus to reproduce.

Forms of the medication

Acyclovir tablets are commonly used for frequent relapses of HSV1 and HSV2. The gel or ointment forms are used to treat herpes manifestations on the eyes. To combat cold sores on the lips, a 5% cream is prescribed.


The daily dose in the treatment of an adult is 200 mg of the drug five times a day. It is important to control the frequency in the reception, for example via a regimen of administration every four hours with a break for eight hours of night rest. In particularly difficult cases, the dosage can be doubled.

Side effects

Like any medicine, acyclovir has side effects. Their intensity can increase in direct proportion to the dosage of the drug as well as the presence of chronic diseases and individual reactions in the patient. In general, however, the drug is well-tolerated.

Possible side effects of acyclovir include:

  • Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting as well as an upset stomach
  • Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and rapid fatigue
  • Allergic skin rashes
  • Baldness
  • Feverish states


Acyclovir has almost no contraindications, though one example of such is the possible intolerance of active or auxiliary components. With caution and limitations, acyclovir can be prescribed during pregnancy and lactation, in patients with problems with the kidneys, in those with dehydration of the body, in those with neurological disorders, and in children younger than two years of age.