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About Acyclovir

If you've used Acyclovir, please help others by sharing your experience with side effects. What would you tell your best friend about this product? Please remember that we do not give medical advice. That is for your local health care provider, who is familiar with your medical history.

Subj: Shivering cold then hot
Date: 10/22/2006
My wife was treated for genital herpes with acyclovir. The problem is that after taking it, a few minutes later she would be shivering cold for about an hour and after that her body was so hot. Should I continue with this medication? Her doctor instructed her to take acyclovir every five hours continuously for five days. She has stopped at day 2.

AskDocWeb: She should consult with her doctor and tell him about her symptoms. And it would be a good idea to check with the doctor about the instructions on that prescription to make sure it is correct.

Subj: Side effects after 4 years?
Date: 10/25/2006
I have been taking acyclovir 400mg daily for 4 years without any side effects. Lately I have had acne like outbreaks on my body and was treated successfully with a sulfa drug for 5 days (Bactrim DS). It was cultured as a form of staph. It has returned again after 2 months. Are these pustules contagious? I have also lost a large percentage of my hair, even on the sides and back. Why do these conditions develop after such a long period of time? I am going to go off acyclovir for a few months and see what happens. I will either be celibate or use condoms. Would I then be able to return to suppressive doses without the recurring side effects for several more years? Thank you for a wonderful site.

AskDocWeb: Yes, staph infection is contagious if you come in contact with someone. If you discontinue for any length of time, you can still return to suppressive therapy. That seems to work for some people but not everyone.

Subj: How long?
Date: 10/25/2006
How long does it take for Acyclovir to work?

AskDocWeb: The burning should go away in 24 hours, but be sure to complete the full course.

Subj: Episodic reduction?
Date: 10/26/2006
Can acyclovir be used for episodic reduction of viral shedding in anticipation of sexual contact? How many days prior to expected contact should one begin 400mg daily (800mg?) therapy to affect maximal suppression? Wouldn't this protocol reduce the possible long term side effects of continual dosing, while providing increased protection against transmission when used by people only sexually active periodically, perhaps monthly? Thank you.

AskDocWeb: People with herpes should always use condoms to reduce the possibility of transmission. The protocol you describe will reduce the chances of long-term side effects but you should talk this over with your doctor to find out if there are other things you need to consider before doing that.

Subj: Bells palsy
Date: 11/1/2006
I'm suffering from bells palsy for the second time in ten years. My Dr prescribed me 800mg aciclovir tabs. I have taken them for almost a week, 5 times a day. Since yesterday the area around my neck and shoulders feel very bruised, hurts if I try to massage. Do I stop taking the tablets?

AskDocWeb: Do not stop taking the acyclovir before you consult with your doctor. He may want to adjust your dose.

Subj: EBV
Date: 11/3/2006
I disagree with a statement you made a few pages back regarding someone who said he had been diagnosed with EBV and his doctor prescribed acyclovir...your response was a little over the basically made it sound like the doctor was wrong in prescribing acyclovir for EBV... Well, I beg to differ, I too was diagnosed with EBV 6 months ago...I got better fairly quickly, then suffered a relapse and have suffered with all the symptoms of EBV for 4 months with no relief...after seeking a 2nd opinion, my new doctor said that although a bit unorthodox, he said acyclovir could help alleviate or maybe totally eradicate my symptoms. He explained because EBV is a herpes virus, and there fore related to the ones that cause shingles, chickenpox, etc., many of his patients have received relief from the symptoms of EBV as well... He did make it clear it is NOT a cure, merely a way to help overcome the sometimes very debilitating effects of said, I think you were a bit off base in your far I have been on the treatment for only a few days, he said it could take a week or two to see any improvement...after 4 months of feeling horrible, I think I can wait another few weeks!

AskDocWeb: Our intention was to convey the fact that Acyclovir does not work on bacterial infections. It does work on viral infections.

Subj: Long-term use causes hair loss
Date: 11/5/2006
Does this happen to everyone or only few. How many years are classed as long? Egg 2 years or more. If his does happen after stopping the drug, does the hair grow back?

AskDocWeb: The hair loss only happens to a few. Drug companies consider one year as long-term usage but they don't seem to provide any data about hair growth after discontinuing. It would be helpful if you would share your story with others here.

Subj: Worried about long-term use
Date: 11/21/2006
I have been taking acyclovir 400 mg per day for last 2 years and have no outbreaks. But I'm worried if it's long term use would damage my kidneys. Also should I reduce the dose to 300 mg per day?

AskDocWeb: It's up to your physician to decide what dosage is right for you. And yes it may cause renal dysfunction but that is something that can be checked. You can have blood work done to make sure your kidneys are functioning normally.

Subj: Hair loss
Date: 11/25/2006
I have been on Acyclovir for 2 years. I noticed that I was losing a lot of hair since February 2006. What can I do before I go bald? I literally get a handful of hair daily in the shower. I also can just pull on it and it comes out. I have had all the tests imaginable, but all are clear. Please someone help...

AskDocWeb: Acyclovir has been reported to cause hair loss in an unknown number of users. Because all your other tests were clear, it may be the Acyclovir. You might ask your doctor if you could safely reduce your dosage, or change from daily to as needed usage. Also there is a shampoo for hair loss called Nisim that might help.

Subj: Tenderness and ache in knees
Date: 11/26/2006
I just completed a 800MG a day cycle of Acyclovir for Herpes 2 virus and am experiencing tenderness and constant ache in my knees on the medial top side of both knees. Is this a possible side effect, or are my knees joints inflamed for a different reason? I am off Acyclovir now with no herpes symptoms. Am I correct in diagnosing the knee problem as a side effect of Acyclovir? Thank You!

AskDocWeb: Probably, about 6% of users have joint pain as a side effect.

Subj: Dry and chapped lips
Date: 11/26/2006
I have been taking Acyclovir 400 mg 2/day since about September. Since shortly thereafter I noticed that my lips are painfully dry and chapped constantly. Sometimes they are so bad they crack and bleed. Could this be caused by the Acyclovir??

AskDocWeb: It's not a listed side effect but that aside, you might want to use something like Carmex on your lips to protect them. And be sure to drink plenty of water.

Subj: Acyclovir for tinnitus?
Date: 11/29/2006
Hello, I have had a progressively bad case of TINNITUS and hearing loss over the past 4 years. My doctor prescribed a 10 day regimen of 3/400mg/ day ( a200 mg tpta; per day). I understand that it is an antiviral drug. Have you heard that ACYCLOVIR helps and, for this duration, should I expect some of the side effects listed on this site? Thank you very much,

AskDocWeb: Most people don't get any side effects but the ones that do usually have more than one. It could cause any of the following:
  • Nausea in 15% of users
  • Headache in 14% of users
  • Vomiting in 6% of users
  • Dizziness in 3% of users
  • Abdominal pain in 3% of users
Tinnitus Studies suggest that treatment with prednisone and acyclovir may improve outcome, although a treatment trial remains to be undertaken.
Read more about Tinnitus causes and treatments.

Subj: Genital herpes
Date: 12/1/2006
I caught genital herpes simplex from receiving oral sex; he does not have genital herpes but did have a cold sore not visible at that first ever outbreak was in November of 1999. I was treated with acyclovir 200 mg, 5xday, can't remember how many days...I cleared up in 6 days. My question is 2006, I have yet to have another outbreak, is it true genital herpes developed from oral sex only has little or no out breaks after the first treatment of medication?

AskDocWeb: Not true, outbreaks can happen at any time even if treated.

Subj: Accidental ingestion of expired acyclovir
Date: 12/20/2006
I am 25 years old and have recurrent HSV 1 outbreaks on my upper lip. Just a few minutes back I ingested an acyclovir tablet (400mg) for the same and only then noticed it had expired a year back. Could this cause any serious side effects?

AskDocWeb: No it shouldn't cause any problems but it may not be effective.

Subj: Small pox vaccine eliminates outbreaks
Date: 12/21/2006
When in the military and being given small pox vaccine, I had no cold sore outbreaks. A few years after discharge and small pox vaccine no longer given to the public, I began outbreaks to which the doctor prescribed 800 mg Acylovir three times a day along with topical ointment. I can only treat the beginnings of an outbreak now, not totally prevent them with the small pox vaccine. Any comments would help me understand why when small pox vaccine eliminates the outbreak, why they are no longer available, or at least the ingredient in it that prevents herpes cold sores. Thank you!

AskDocWeb: Thank you for your service to our country. This one took a few hours of research. The bottom line is, there are too many adverse side effects. According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, of the 38,885 individuals who received the vaccine, there were 822 reported adverse reactions. Most of these reactions were mild and self-limited but of the 100 more serious reactions, there were 21 cases of myopericarditis, 10 ischemic cardiac events, 2 cases of generalized vaccinia and one case of encephalitis.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) web site says that herpes is a contraindication and that the vaccine should not be used therapeutically for any reason. Use of the vaccine to treat herpes infections (considered a misuse) has been associated with some pretty nasty complications, including death. According to the CDC, those who have certain conditions, or live with someone who does, should not get the smallpox vaccine unless they have been exposed to the smallpox virus. The conditions are:
  • 1) Eczema or dermatitis
  • 2) Conditions such as burns, chickenpox, shingles, impetigo, herpes, severe acne, or psoriasis
  • 3) Weakened immune system
  • 4) Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant within one month of vaccination.
Although there are a low number of serious adverse reactions to this vaccine (0.05%) reports like yours indicate that more research is needed.

Read more feedback about Acyclovir.

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