Valtrex is valacyclovir. It acts by breaking down into an active component called acyclovir that has powerful anti-viral actions.
Shingles is a clinical condition that is caused by the herpes virus and can result in the formation of painful skin lesions that are present along a specific nerve fibre (called dermatome).
Shingles can be rather troublesome and painful and can disrupt the quality of life of the patient. Depending upon the site where shingles occurs, symptoms can vary. For example, shingles that affects one half of the face can sometimes even affect the eyes and vision making it a serious condition that requires urgent treatment.
Valtrex has clinical applications in the management of shingles. In this article, we shall briefly review this aspect.
Valtrex for shingles
When treating shingles, it is important to give an adequate amount of anti-viral agents to get rid of the virus completely and to allow for healing of the skin lesions. In keeping with this, Valtrex is prescribed for patients who are suffering from herpes zoster i.e. shingles at a dose of 1 g taken three times a day for a period of a week. During this time, patients will start to notice an improvement in their symptoms within a day or two. It can take more than a week for the lesions to completely heal but the pain and associated symptoms can resolve fairly quickly.
Any patient who is worried that they may have shingles must visit a health care professional as soon as possible. This is because allowing herpes zoster to spread can make it very difficult to treat as the patient would be suffering quite a lot from the pain. It is strongly recommended therefore that valacyclovir be started as soon as possible once a diagnosis of shingles has been made.
Once the drug has been taken orally, within 48 hours of so, patients will start to notice an improvement. Interestingly, the drug appears to be the most effective when it is taken two days after the onset of the rash.
When taking the drug, it is important to keep an eye out for certain side-effects. Patients with shingles must have blood tests to ascertain the function of the kidneys as valacyclovir can affect the kidney function. Some patients may develop side-effects on the central nervous system such as agitation, delirium, confusion and even seizures. These side-effects are more prominent in elderly population groups would must be kept an eye out for in younger individuals as well.
The clinical applications of Valtrex extend beyond simple shingles and include managing genital herpes and cold sores. Herpes zoster can be seen in patients with low levels of immunity such as those affected by HIV or those who have undergone chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation. In such patients, longer duration of medication may be required but this can be determined on a case-by-case basis by the treating practitioner.
Valtrex has a significant benefit of being used in managing patients who have shingles. It is very effective and can treat the condition within a span of days.