Every medication has side effects that we are warned about before taking, especially for medications that focus on immune system and are processed through the kidneys and liver; however, even topical medications have potential risks involved with use. For all medications, there is a possibility of allergic reaction as well. Zovirax (acyclovir) side effects will vary depending on patient, type of administration, and how long the medication is taken for. Not every patient will experience side effects, and some patients may find they experience the majority.
Oral administration of Zovirax (acyclovir) generally list side effects that include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Lightheadedness and drowsiness
- Swelling in the hands and/or feet
- Pain in the lower back
- Decreased urine output and other kidney malfunction
- Unusual weakness and fatigue
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Allergic reaction including symptoms like difficulty breathing; hives; and swelling of the face, tongue, lips, and throat.
The most common side effect for this medication is nausea. If this symptom continues or worsens throughout the treatment regimen, contact a doctor immediately as you will likely need to stop taking it.
Side effects for the topical cream and ointment include, but are not limited to:
- Dry cracked lips (from the cream that is used with cold sores)
- Flaky skin
- A serious allergic reaction that is characterized by itching or swelling, rash, trouble breathing, and dizziness.
Precautions with acyclovir
Before taking any medication, it’s advisable to give a full history to your treating physician and include a list of medications currently taking, including over-the counter medications and herbal supplements. List any family or personal history of kidney problems or weakened immune system. Zovirax does not react well with certain medications such as some antidepressants, heart medications, and kidney medications. Patients should keep with them a list of allergies to medications as well, especially if they are allergic to valacyclovir, as patients with an allergy to this medication don’t respond well to Zovirax.
As this drug has the possibility of causing dizziness and drowsiness, patients should not drive or operate machinery. Do not get certain vaccinations, such as varicella, before talking with your physician if you are taking or using Zovirax (acyclovir).
Additionally, because of these potential side effects, patients should not drink alcohol or take certain medications that would exacerbate these symptoms.