Acyclovir is an antiviral medication used to treat infections caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), including genital herpes, cold sores, and shingles (herpes zoster). It can also be used to prevent and treat herpes infections that occur in people with weak immune systems, such as those with HIV or after a transplant.
Acyclovir works by interfering with the way the virus reproduces, preventing it from spreading and reducing the severity of the symptoms. It does not cure herpes infections but can help reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks.
Acyclovir can be taken orally, applied as a topical cream, or given intravenously for severe cases. It is generally well-tolerated, with common side effects including nausea, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness. Rare but serious side effects include seizures, hallucinations, and kidney problems.
It is important to note that while acyclovir can help treat herpes infections, it does not protect against the spread of the virus to others. Safe sex practices, including using condoms, can help reduce the risk of transmission.