Valtrex is an anti-viral agent that is used in the management of certain clinical illnesses. It contains a drug valacyclovir which is a prodrug i.e. an inactive agent that is broken down into its active component acyclovir once it is taken. Acyclovir is a potent anti-viral agent that can inhibit the growth and multiplication of viruses.
Valacyclovir does have a number of different clinical applications but these entirely lie within the herpes virus management.
Below are some of the commonly indicated reasons for using Valtrex.
1. Chicken Pox
In children, Valtrex has a clinical application in the management of chickenpox. Chickenpox is caused by the herpes virus and consists of small boils that erupt on the child’s skin surface. An attack of chickenpox can sometimes be quite severe and while most cases the symptoms resolve by themselves, in some patients, valacyclovir may be required.
2. Herpes Zoster
In individuals who have suffered from chickenpox as a child, the reactivation of the herpes virus can occur in adult hood. This commonly presents as a condition called as herpes zoster. This sort of infection is commonly called shingles. Valacyclovir is a useful drug in the management of this condition. Not only does it reduce the duration of the illness, it can also reduce the number of future episodes. However, it does not cure the condition in anyway and patients may develop further infections in the future. That being said, when new infections do occur, valacyclovir can reduce the severity of the illness and the duration for which the patient remains unwell.
3. Herpes labialis (cold sores)
Valtrex is also used in the treatment of herpes labialis i.e. cold sores. Cold sores are annoying small pustules that form on the outer edge of the lip. They can be cosmetically rather unpleasant and many a time can affect the confidence of an individual. Valacyclovir is a useful drug in the management of this condition. Once again, the drug only reduces the pain and itching that patients may experience and also the duration of the illness but does not offer a cure in anyway. Patients who have developed cold sores and never had valacyclovir may require future therapies in the event of a recurrence.
It must be remembered that herpes virus infections can affect anyone but those who have low levels of immunity tend to be a lot more prone to developing these infections. For example, in patients who have a HIV infection or in those who have undergone treatment like chemotherapy, the immune system is not equipped to fight viral infections. As a result, patients may exhibit signs and symptoms suggestive of underlying herpes infections. In such patients, valacyclovir can be a useful drug to treat the infection and help the patient recover.
In patients with HIV infection, cytomegalovirus infections are common. In preventing this, valacyclovir can be useful and is usually prescribed.
Valacyclovir has numerous clinical applications primarily in the management of herpes infections.