Valaciclovir is an antiviral medicine used to treat genital herpes, cold sores, chickenpox, and shingles. It’ll work on both types of the herpes simplex virus (HSV 1 and 2) that cause cold sores and genital herpes. It’ll also work on the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.
For genital herpes, valaciclovir can be used the first time you get it and to treat or suppress repeat outbreaks.
Ordering valaciclovir is fast, convenient and discreet when you use an online doctor, like ZAVA.
- Select start order and fill in a short medical questionnaire
- A doctor will review your answers to make sure it’s right for you
- Our doctors will post it directly to your door, or you can collect it from your nearest post office
You can also message a doctor at any time through your patient account if you have any questions about valaciclovir, your health, or another treatment.
When you order valaciclovir online, you don’t need to book a face to face appointment or collect from a pharmacy. We’ll deliver directly to your door, so you can say goodbye to hassle or worrying about running out of medication. And you can rest assured that a doctor will always review your medicine to make sure it’s safe and suitable for you.
Please note: where a generic product has been ordered, we may use a range of manufacturers to provide you with your medication to maintain our service levels.
20 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £69.95
6 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £29.95
12 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £44.95
18 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £79.95
10 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £39.95
20 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £69.95
30 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £89.95
84 tablet(s) / 500 mg - £219.00
Valaciclovir is an antiviral medication (meaning it works against viruses) and is used to manage HSV (herpes simplex virus) and VZV (varicella-zoster) infections. It can be used for herpes, cold sores, chickenpox, and shingles (also known as herpes zoster).
Valaciclovir is used to treat outbreaks of symptoms (flare-ups) or taken every day over 6 to 12 months to prevent herpes outbreaks if you get them often. It can help you by reducing how long it takes you to heal from an outbreak and lowers the chances of you passing the virus on to someone else.
Valaciclovir does not cure herpes. There’s no current cure for genital herpes or cold sores. But it can help you by treating outbreaks or suppressing the virus to keep it in a dormant (inactive) state to prevent outbreaks and stop you from getting symptoms. You can never get rid of herpes completely.
Valacyclovir is known as a prodrug, which means your body changes it into another drug after you take it. Your body turns valacyclovir into acyclovir, which works by blocking the virus from reproducing, stopping it from multiplying and slowing down how fast it spreads. This helps to control your symptoms or prevent outbreaks.
Is HSV anything to do with HIV? HSV and HIV are different viruses. However, having genital herpes can make you more likely to get HIV if you have sexual contact with someone who has HIV. You should speak to a doctor about risks and prevention if you’re concerned.
Valaciclovir should control the spread and size of your genital herpes, so long as you take it as instructed. It works best if you start taking it within the first 24 hours of symptoms of an outbreak, but it can still help when taken within the first 5 days.
It’s important to remember that valaciclovir cannot cure herpes. No treatment can. But, if you take valaciclovir, it can help you control the virus and reduce your symptoms. It can also be used to prevent herpes outbreaks if you get them regularly. Find out more about how to prevent a herpes outbreak.
You may get fewer or less serious side effects with valaciclovir compared to the other genital herpes medications. That’s why it’s slightly more expensive.
How does valaciclovir help shingles? Valaciclovir can reduce how long and how severely you have a shingles outbreak, including how long you feel pain for.
You should swallow the valaciclovir tablets whole with a glass of water at the same time each day. Follow the instructions from a doctor or pharmacist.
Do I still need to complete treatment even if the symptoms clear up? Yes. This is really important as it’ll reduce the risk of the infection coming back.
How long does valaciclovir take to work? This depends on what you’re taking it for and whether this is your first outbreak. For most herpes outbreaks and recurring herpes, valaciclovir starts working quickly and gives you relief in 2 to 3 days. Usually, the sooner you take valaciclovir after getting symptoms, the faster it’ll relieve them.
How do I know if my treatment is working? You should notice your symptoms improve and the blistering dies down while you’re taking the treatment. If you’re still getting new blisters after finishing treatment, you should speak to a doctor.
Can I still have sex during herpes treatment? You should avoid having sex while taking herpes treatment because you may spread it to your partner. This includes including oral and anal sex. If you do have sex, you must use protection.
Can I drink alcohol on valaciclovir? You can drink alcohol while taking valaciclovir. Alcohol does not interact with valaciclovir in the body.
How much valaciclovir you need will depend on:
- if you’re using it to treat cold sores, genital herpes or shingles
- if this is your first outbreak (flare-up)
- if you get recurring outbreaks
- if you’re taking it to prevent outbreaks
A doctor will tell you how much you should take, so it’s important to follow their instructions. Below is a general guide to the usual dosage for otherwise healthy people, depending on your needs.
Treating for genital herpes outbreaks
If this is your first herpes outbreak, you should take 500mg twice a day for 5 to 10 days. If you’re still getting new sores after the first 5 days, you can continue to take the tablets for 10 days.
The treatment plan is usually the same for recurring outbreaks, but you would only need to take the tablets for 3 to 5 days.
Suppressive treatment for genital herpes
You can use valaciclovir to prevent herpes outbreaks by suppressing the virus. This is where you take 500mg of valaciclovir every day for 6 to 12 months.
If you take too much, you must speak to a doctor. If you miss a dose, do not double the dose next time. Simply continue with the treatment as normal from the next dose.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids while taking valaciclovir and wear sun cream because your skin is more sensitive to UV light.
For shingles, the usual dose is 1000mg 3 times a day for 7 days.
Yes, valaciclovir is a prescription-only medicine. This means you cannot get this herpes treatment over the counter at a pharmacy as it must be prescribed by a doctor. You can get a prescription for valaciclovir online with ZAVA if you’re suitable for this treatment.
Any adult can take valaciclovir if prescribed by a doctor unless you take any of the medicines or have any of the conditions listed in the “Warnings” section of the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine (see below). Herpes can affect people of any age, but most people get their first outbreak of herpes when they’re under 30 years old.
Valaciclovir is the name of the active ingredient in valaciclovir tablets that works against the virus. We provide unbranded valaciclovir tablets. It works in the same way as branded medications, like Valtrex, but is not sold under a brand name.
What is valaciclovir 500mg used for? Valaciclovir 500mg tablets are used to treat an outbreak of herpes or as a suppressive treatment. Suppressive treatment is where you take it every day over a 6 to 12 months to prevent outbreaks if you get them often. You can also get valaciclovir tablets containing either 250mg or 1000mg. So, for example, if you need to take 500mg, you can take one 500mg tablet or two 250mg tablets.
Nearly all medicines cause side effects, but not everyone will get them.
Common side effects
- headache (1 in 10 may experience headaches)
- feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting)
- sensitivity to light (photosensitivity)
- skin reactions (rashes and itching)
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, and you should not drive or use heavy machinery if you feel dizzy or sleepy while taking valaciclovir.
A full list of more uncommon side effects is below. If you get a serious allergic reaction (symptoms are facial swelling, itchy skin and difficulty breathing), stop taking valaciclovir immediately and speak to a doctor straight away.
Uncommon side effects
- Abdominal (tummy) discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in your pee
- Changes in your blood like a lower number of white blood cells (mainly seen in people with a weakened immune system) or reduced platelet count
- Feeling drowsy
- Kidney pain
- Hive-like rash
Rare or very rare side effects
- Swelling under the skin
- Unsteadiness while walking/lack of coordination
- Delirium (disturbed thoughts) and psychosis
- Slow/slurred speech
- Altered brain function
- Kidney problems or kidney stones
Side effects affecting your brain or nervous system are generally seen in people taking high doses (8000mg daily) and are usually reversible.
Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine for more information about side effects.
You should always speak to a doctor if you get any of these side effects or any other changes.
You must not take valaciclovir if you’re allergic to any of its ingredients which can be found in the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine. You should speak to a doctor, pharmacist or nurse before taking valaciclovir if you:
- are over 65
- have kidney problems
- have liver problems
- have a weak immune system
Don’t become dehydrated while taking valaciclovir by drinking water.
Other medicines can affect the way valaciclovir works in your body. You must tell a doctor if you’re on any of the following medications before taking valaciclovir:
- Any medicines you’re taking without a prescription, including herbal medicines
- Medicines that affect the kidneys, including aminoglycosides, organoplatinum compounds, iodinated contrast media, methotrexate, pentamidine, foscarnet, ciclosporin, tacrolimus, cimetidine and probenecid
Speak to a doctor if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding and wish to take valaciclovir. Tell a doctor about other medicines you’re taking if you’re taking valaciclovir for shingles or after having an organ transplant.
Valaciclovir works in a similar way to other genital herpes treatments. Some reports show that people get fewer or less serious side effects with valaciclovir compared to the other genital herpes medications. This is what makes it slightly more expensive.
Aciclovir and famciclovir (also known by the brand names Zovirax and Famvir, respectively) are the other approved treatments for genital herpes in the UK. Famciclovir is more commonly used to treat shingles or herpes and cold sores in people who have weakened immune systems.
Valaciclovir can also be more convenient than other medications because you don’t need as many tablets a day, depending on what you need it for.
You can also be prescribed a cream for genital herpes if your outbreak is painful.
Are valaciclovir and aciclovir the same? Valaciclovir and aciclovir are similar drugs, and both are used to treat herpes.
Is Valtrex the same as valaciclovir? Valaciclovir is the active ingredient in Valtrex. Valtrex is the most common brand name for valaciclovir.
Most people realise they have genital herpes because they notice symptoms like itchy or tingly skin, fever, feeling sick (nausea), aching muscles and pain when peeing. Abnormal vaginal discharge can be a symptom of genital herpes in women, but is also a sign of inflammation of the womb.
You may think you’ve caught genital herpes if you’ve recently had unprotected sex or oral sex with someone who has the virus.
Protection is the best way to prevent getting genital herpes. To make sure you’re always protected, you should:
- use condoms for any sexual contact, including oral and anal sex
- avoid sharing sex toys
- avoid any contact with infected blisters or ulcers that contain the virus, including not touching infected genitals with your hand
- wash your hands thoroughly if you’ve touched any blisters
Remember: the virus is most contagious when an outbreak is visible. Find out more about how to prevent genital herpes.
It’s best to begin treatment within the first 24 hours of getting symptoms or within the first 5 days. This will mean that valaciclovir can start working as early as possible so that your symptoms don’t get worse. You can start the treatment as soon as you notice the first symptoms, like burning or tingling skin, before a blister appears.
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Herpes simplex - genital: Management (2017) NICE [accessed 4 May 2021]
Valaciclovir (2021) BNF [accessed 23 May 2021]
Valaciclovir 500mg film coated tablets (2019) EMC [accessed 4 May 2021]
Valaciclovir for viral infections (2019) Patient.info [accessed 4 May 2021]
You can treat genital herpes two ways. One treatment option is for when you experience an individual outbreak (acute therapy) and the other is treatment for when you need to avoid regular outbreaks (suppressive). ZAVA offers both types of treatment through a discreet, convenient service.