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Valtrex (Valacyclovir) for Cold Sores

Valtrex is the generic name for the drug valacyclovir. It has applications in clinical practice as a drug that is effective against certain viruses. One such virus is the herpesvirus that is responsible for the development of cold sores. In this article, we shall briefly review the effect of Valtrex on cold sores.

What is Valtrex and how does Valtrex work?

Valtrex is an anti-viral agent that acts upon the genetic material of the virus through a specific enzyme. Once it is taken orally, it is broken down into its active form called acyclovir. Acyclovir is a commonly prescribed drug in the management of herpes infections, thus making Valtrex a useful drug in managing these infections as well.

Cold sores

Cold sores are sometimes called herpes labialis in the medical world. It starts off as an infection of the angle of the mouth by the herpes simplex virus. Most patients tend to have no symptoms but some may develop small boils and ulcers.

The virus takes a rest within the nerve fibres of the trigeminal nerve and when stimulating by triggers such as trauma, stress or fever, it can break out into small red spots around the mouth. They tend to be single in most cases though multiple spots may be seen rarely. This is known as cold sores.

Dosage of Valtrex in cold sores

In patients who have cold sores, Valtrex is prescribed at the dose of 2 g twice a day at 12 hour intervals. Only a single day worth of treatment is prescribed as this is sufficient to treat the infection. While Valtrex is helpful in reducing itching and pain due to the cold sores, it does not necessarily cure the infection completely. However, it reassuringly can prevent the development of new lesions.

As always, it is strongly recommended that all patients see a registered health care practitioner and take these drugs only on prescription.

Side-effects and precautions

The common side-effects that patients taking Valtrex experience include headaches, nausea and vomiting. Some patients may have a history of developing an allergic reaction to the drug and in such patients adequate precautions must be observed. Ideally such patients must not be prescribed the medication.

In elderly patients, there is a high chance that Valtrex can cause side effects on the kidney and the brain and care must be therefore taken. In such situations, it is advised that Valtrex be avoided particularly if the kidney function is poor.

There are side-effects include problems with the way the blood clots. Recognised conditions include thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and haemolytic uraemic syndrome.

Valtrex is useful in the treatment of cold sores in both adults and children.

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