Valtrex is an antiviral medication that contains the drug Valacyclovir. It is a prescription medication taken orally to treat infections caused by the herpes virus. Valtrex will not cure herpes, but the medication will slow down the speed at which the virus grows and spreads in the body. Valtrex hinders the activity of a viral enzyme in the herpes-infected cells in the body. This enzyme, called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase, is required for the herpes virus to be able to replicate. Valtrex or generic Valacyclovir will reduce the symptoms of certain herpes viral infections, including chickenpox, cold sores, shingles, and genital herpes. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
Shingles are caused by varicella-zoster, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles and cause a painful skin rash known as shingles or herpes zoster. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso. Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is one of the complications of shingles. It is characterized by severe pain along affected nerves where the herpes zoster virus is located.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause blisters and skin ulcers in the genital and anal area. The herpes simplex virus spreads from person to person through kissing and skin-to-skin contact, as well as through vaginal, oral or anal intercourse. Symptoms of genital herpes may include itching, burning, soreness and small blisters in the genital or anal area; small ulcers or skin sores when the blisters break, although many people with genital herpes may not have any symptoms.
If you are taking Valtrex to treat the symptoms of genital herpes, you should be aware that this drug will not prevent the spread of genital herpes. Even if you do not have noticeable symptoms, it is still possible to spread genital herpes.
It may be unsafe to take Valtrex if you have kidney disease, have undergone a bone marrow or kidney transplant, or have any other health condition involving a compromised immune system. Inform your doctor about any existing medical conditions, as well as any other prescription or non-prescription drugs you are taking.
Individuals 65 years of age or older may experience more side effects from taking Valtrex. Tell your doctor about all other medications you are using. Valtrex can be harmful to the kidneys, and these effects are increased when it is used together with other medicines that can harm the kidneys.
You should stop taking Valtrex and call your doctor right away if you have any signs of a serious side effect that can harm red blood cells, such as: fever, easy bruising or bleeding, red spots on the skin (not related to herpes or chickenpox), bloody diarrhea, vomiting, pale or yellowed skin, weakness, fainting, or urinating less than usual or not at all.