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Aciclovir is a treatment for both types of herpes simplex virus (1 and 2), including cold sores and genital herpes, a condition often transmitted through sexual contact. It is the generic version of the popular brand Zovirax, and functions in the same way. Aciclovir is available in tablet form or as a cream for cold sores and as a tablet for herpes. 

PLEASE NOTE: As this treatment is a generic medicine, the brand of the product you receive may be different to the one shown in the picture.

To renew your prescription for herpes or cold sore treatment and buy Aciclovir online, take our confidential questionnaire to start your consultation. Our UK pharmacy will ship your medication by special delivery, so you can expect to receive it in one working day.

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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

This content was reviewed by a clinician on

26 April 2022
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 26 April 2022
Product information

Aciclovir is a medicine produced by Accord, used to treat both strains of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and -2). The only version available through our pharmacy is the tablet version. However, it is available in different forms, including as a cream.

The medication is the generic version of the more widely-known herpes treatment, Zovirax. Containing the same active ingredient, Aciclovir performs the exact same function as its branded counterpart.

  1. Antiviral tablet
  2. Speeds up the recovery process
  3. Treats recurrent outbreaks

As well as helping to expedite the healing process when applied to cases of the virus in progress, Aciclovir can also be employed as a preventative measure during the very early stages of reactivation, before blisters or sores have fully surfaced. Doing this helps to limit the intensity of recurrent cases.

Herpes is one of the most common physically communicable viruses. It is characterised by painful blisters and sores in the affected area. Although most people associate the infection with sexual contact, it is possible to transmit HSV-1 (more often oral cold sores) indirectly through the use of shared glassware or utensils.

Cold sores are small blisters that form on the lips or near the mouth. There aren’t always symptoms, and the virus does not always become active, but if there are symptoms, a burning or tingling sensation around the mouth usually precedes sores developing on the lower lip. 

The sores contain fluid and are extremely contagious, easily passed by direct contact between one person and another. You should avoid close contact with anyone else until the cold sore has healed and disappeared.

In terms of treatment, cold sores tend to disappear naturally within 7-10 days, but antiviral creams may quicken the healing process. 

HSV-2 (most typically associated with genital herpes) is generally transmitted through sexual contact.

It is thought to be possible to pass the infection onto someone else at any time, even when the virus is in remission. However, the likelihood of this is very small, compared to when the virus is active and symptoms are present. Herpes is at its most contagious when blisters and sores have burst, and remains infectious for a period of a few days following this. So, when a flare-up is in progress, it is best to avoid sexual contact with others until the area has completely healed, in order to limit the chances of infecting someone else.

Currently, there is no cure for herpes, and once contracted the virus remains present in a person’s system for the rest of their lives. Although the virus does not ever fully go away, symptoms will tend to come and go with decreasing frequency and severity as a person gets older. Reactivations usually occur when the immune system of the host is in a particularly weakened state, sometimes due to illness or fatigue.

Treatment for HSV therefore aims at speeding up the recovery process, and catching reactivations before they can develop. Aciclovir is an effective treatment for herpes, as it gets to work fast, easing symptoms during the active stages of an outbreak, and halting the development of those about to happen.

It does this by stopping the virus from reproducing in the body. During an episode, the virus generates a self-sustaining enzyme (DNA polymerase) to help multiply itself, which leads to symptoms. Aciclovir works in the body to prevent the production of this enzyme, thus starving the virus of the growth it needs, and enabling the immune system to push the virus back into remission.

First episodes of herpes should be seen by a doctor or practitioner at a GUM or sexual health clinic. Treatment will usually be initiated by them following as assessment of your symptoms, to confirm that it is herpes.

Patients looking to renew their prescription for Aciclovir and buy online can do so with our private consultation service. We work with GMC-registered doctors, who will review your case. Following their approval, they will draw up a prescription for you and send this to our UK pharmacy to be dispensed. Orders are shipped by tracked next-day delivery.

Active Ingredient

The functioning agent in Aciclovir is a substance of the same name, which belongs to a category of medicines called guanosine analog antivirals. It is one of the most established antiviral drugs in medicine, and was developed in the second half of the 20th century. It is now widely considered an essential medicine.

Aciclovir works by inhibiting the growth of viral cells, which attempt to spread and multiply during an outbreak or reactivation of a herpes infection. When the infection awakens and starts to advance, this process manifests in the form of gential or oral blistering and sores, depending on the strain of the virus.

To help it grow, the herpes virus converts an enzyme called RNA polymerase to DNA polymerase. Aciclovir inhibits this process, and limits the development of the virus. Once the growth of the virus is halted, the immune system is able to tackle the infection. This product will therefore not cure herpes, but it will expedite its progress to dormancy.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022


Follow the instructions issued by your prescriber when using this medicine, and make sure you read the patient information leaflet fully before use.

  1. If you are using Aciclovir 5% cream, put a thin layer of the cream on the infected area and the skin beside it five times per day at four hour intervals.
  2. If you are using Aciclovir 200mg tablets, take the tablets as advised by your doctor, with a glass of water.
  3. The usual dose to treat a recurrent outbreak is 200mg, 5 times a day for 5 days.
  4. Doses should be spread 4 hours apart (with the night-time dose not observed).
  5. Begin using this treatment as soon as you notice signs of infection.
  6. Keep the affected area as clean and dry as possible.
  7. If you miss a dose, don’t double the amount on your next dose. Continue as normal.
  8. Never use more than the amount advised by your doctor.
  9. In some cases, treatment may be continued if the lesions have not cleared up after 5 days. Speak to your doctor if your genital herpes symptoms persist after 5 days of treatment.

For more detailed directions, read the patient information leaflet which comes with your medicine.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Aciclovir Tablets 200mg

Aciclovir Cream 2g

Aciclovir Cream 10g

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

No medicine is suitable for everyone or 100 percent risk-free when it comes to side effects. Aciclovir may induce certain side effects, and although they may only be experienced by a minority of the people who use the treatment, it is important to maintain an awareness of them so that you can take action if you notice them.

1. Aciclovir standard tablets

Common (1 in 10 people or less):

Dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain, vomiting, skin rashes, itching, tiredness, sensitivity to sunlight, fever.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):

Severe rash, hair loss.

Rare (1 in 1000 people or less):

Drowsiness, breathlessness, confusion, hallucinations, sleepiness, agitation, involuntary shaking, loss of coordination, abnormal test results.

2. Aciclovir dispersible tablets (not available through our site)

Common (1 in 10 people or less):

Dizziness, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, skin rashes, itching, tiredness, sensitivity to sunlight.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):

Skin irritation, hair loss.

Rare (1 in 1000 people or less):

Difficulty breathing, abnormal test results, oral or facial swelling, verbal problems, liver or kidney problems, sensitivity to light, agitation, confusion, feelings of weakness, hallucinations, shaking or tremors, reduced coordination.

3. Aciclovir Cream

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):

Burning sensation at application site; irritation, itching or flaking of the skin.

Rare (1 in 1000 people or less):

Redness, hypersensitivity, dermatitis.

The information presented here is not a comprehensive account of known possible side effects. For a more detailed list, refer to the patient information leaflet provided or ask your pharmacist. Consult your doctor if you notice these or any other side effects.


Taking it with other medicines

You should tell your doctor if you are taking or have recently taken any medication for other conditions during consultation for Aciclovir.

At present, Aciclovir Cream is not known to interact with or affect the performance of other medicines.

Probenecid, cimetidine and mycophenolate mofetil may affect your ability to safely use Aciclovir Dispersible tablets.

The use of cimetidine, probenecid, mycophenolate mofetil, ciclosporin, theophylline, or zidovudine may affect your suitability to Aciclovir standard tablets.

Do not take Aciclovir Actavis with any other medications for herpes, unless instructed to do so by a doctor.

Conditions to look out for

Disclose your medical history to your prescriber prior to using this medicine. If you have or have had any of the following conditions, a doctor may choose not to prescribe this treatment: an allergy to any containing ingredients; AIDS; a bone marrow transplant; liver or kidney problems; or any condition which limits the function of your immune system.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive you should speak to your doctor before you use any of the Aciclovir medications.

Driving and machinery

This medication could make you feel sleepy, drowsy or slow to react. You should check that you have not been effected before you carry out any driving on use of machines.

Lactose intolerance

Aciclovir contains lactose, therefore anyone with an intolerance of sugars should speak with their doctor before using this product.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Aciclovir Tablets 200mg

Aciclovir Cream 2g

Aciclovir Cream 10g


Can I still drink alcohol?

Yes. Aciclovir is not known to be any more likely to cause side effects when consumed with alcohol. However, we would recommend that you only ever drink in sensible amounts, so that you can continue to take your treatment as and when required.

Will I still be able to drive?

This medicine should not directly affect your motor skills or judgement, meaning that you should be able to drive when using it. However, if this medication causes side effects which you believe may make it difficult for you to drive safely, you should avoid doing so and speak to your doctor.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

Aciclovir may cause harm to you or your baby if used during pregnancy or breast-feeding. You should only apply this treatment during pregnancy if your doctor deems it absolutely necessary.

How should I store it?

Below 30°C and in a dry environment. Ensure you keep the packaging sealed when not in use, and away from sources of light and moisture.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

The standard tablet version contains aciclovir, lactose, magnesium stearate, polyvidone, sodium starch glycollate, E132, E460, colloidal anhydrous silica, and E172. Do not use this treatment if you are allergic or unable to tolerate any of the above.

Aciclovir Cream contains aciclovir, cetostearyl alcohol, mineral oil, poloxamer 407, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, water, and white petrolatum. If you suspect that you may be allergic to any of these, do not use this product.

The dispersible tablet version contains microcrystalline cellulose, aluminium magnesium silicate, sodium starch glycolate, povidone K30, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, macrogol 400, titanium dioxide [E171], macrogol 8000 and aciclovir. If you are allergic to any of these substances, do not use this medicine.

Is it available over-the-counter?

No. You can only buy this product with a prescription from a doctor. 

Can I continue having sex whilst I’m using Herpes treatment?

Sexual contact is not generally recommended while you are treating herpes. It’s best to wait until your symptoms have settled and your skin has healed. Using a condom does not always protect against herpes, as it might not cover exposed sores.

Is it right for me?

If you suspect that you may have genital herpes, see your GP or go to your nearest sexual health or GUM clinic if you are experiencing herpes symptoms for the first time. Initial treatment should be issued by a practitioner in person, following an examination.

Renewing your prescription for herpes or cold sore medication is simple with our private consultation service. To buy Aciclovir online from our UK pharmacy, take our questionnaire. Your case will be reviewed by a practising doctor. Following approval, your treatment will be dispensed and shipped to your chosen address by tracked parcel.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
Product review

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