Valaciclovir is a strong tablet treatment indicated for cases of genital herpes. It is a generic version of the branded medicine Valtrex, and performs the same function.


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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.

Valaciclovir is a tablet medicine used to help people experiencing genital herpes to recover faster. It does this fighting the virus responsible for causing symptoms, herpes simplex (HSV), and sending the virus back into a state of recess. When applied at the first sign of a return, the treatment can also help to limit the severity of an outbreak.

  1. Treats outbreaks fast
  2. Prevents symptoms before they can develop
  3. Ideal for people who get frequent recurrences

Herpes is caused by one of two strains of HSV (1 or 2), and can lead to the presence of oral or genital sores, or blisters. These tend to be uncomfortable rather than painful, and they can cause someone to feel self-conscious when they appear. The condition is at present not curable, and once contracted, remains present in a person’s system indefinitely. However, the severity and frequency of flare-ups will often decrease as a person gets older.

Genital herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact, meaning that it is more likely to be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Using barrier contraceptives such as condoms may reduce the chances of infection, but do not entirely eliminate them. The virus is at its most transferrable when it is active, particularly when the surfaces of blisters and sores have broken. It remains contagious until the affected area has completely recovered and no signs of infection remain.

Because the condition can lay dormant for long periods, it can be tricky to predict when it might resurface. The condition is more likely to reactivate when the immune system is in a weakened state; for instance, when the individual is tired or run-down. As there is no cure for herpes, treatment works towards limiting symptoms, speeding up recovery and putting the virus into a state of inactivity.

Valaciclovir is an established medicine, and has been available for some time in branded form as Valtrex, made by GlaxoSmithKline. The US patent on this medicine expired in 2009, and it has since been available in generic forms. The version available here is manufactured by Teva.

The treatment is a prodrug, which means that it is converted into an active ingredient by a person’s metabolism after it has been taken. Valaciclovir in the body changes into aciclovir, which is a widely-used antiviral ingredient in herpes medicine. It functions by attacking the virus’s capacity to sustain itself through growth and multiplication. After the virus is rendered inert, antibodies send it back into hibernation.

If you think you require Valaciclovir treatment, please contact your doctor. Our online service does not sell this product.

Active Ingredient

Valaciclovir is the operating ingredient in this treatment. It was developed as the branded medication Valtrex by GlaxoSmithKline in the late 1980s, and became available as a generic medicine in 2009.

The agent is a prodrug, which activates after coming into contact with the human metabolic system. Inside the body, the substance is converted into aciclovir. This treats herpes infections by blocking the function of an enzyme, called DNA polymerase, which the virus requires to reproduce. Once this process has taken place, the virus is no longer able to grow, and susceptible to attack from the immune system. Antibodies then force the virus into remission.

Page last reviewed:  02/01/2018


When using Valaciclovir, it is vital to follow the directions set out by our doctor and to adhere to the guidelines specified in the instructions. This will help to enable the medicine to work at its very best, and reduce the likelihood of side effects.

  1. Take as directed. For genital herpes, this will typically be one tablet twice a day for five consecutive days for recurrences; or ten consecutive days for initial outbreaks.
  2. Swallow one tablet with water.
  3. The tablets are effective regardless of whether you take them with or without food.
  4. Never take more than the amount prescribed.
  5. If you miss a dose, don’t take an extra dose to compensate. Carry on as normal.
  6. Speak to your doctor if you take more than you should.

Ensure you read the leaflet provided before using this medicine. If you are still less than completely sure how to use it, ask your physician or your pharmacist for advice.

Download Valaciclovir patient information leaflet

Page last reviewed:  02/01/2018
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

This product, like any other medicine, may cause side effects in some users. It is important to know what these are, so that you can take the appropriate action and seek medical help if they become apparent.

Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Headache, nausea.

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):
Rash, sensitivity to light, breathlessness.

Rare (1 in 1000 people or less):
Confusion, dizziness, hallucinations, diarrhoea, kidney dysfunction, abdominal pain, vomiting.

Very rare (1 in 10000 people or less):
Angioedema, kidney failure, tremors, ataxia, convulsions.

The side effects listed here are only a selection. For a full list, refer to the leaflet supplied or ask your prescriber. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice anything unusual or suspect you may be experiencing harmful side effects or an allergic reaction to the treatment.


Taking it with other medicines

Your prescribing doctor needs to know if you are using other medications, whether they are prescription, non-prescription or remedies.

Medicines which may affect the efficacy of this treatment include probenecid, cimetidine, tacrolimus, ciclosporin, and mycophenolate mofetil. You should only use Valaciclovir in addition to other treatments for herpes if your doctor tells you to.

Conditions to look out for

A history of liver or kidney diseases may inhibit your suitability for this medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

This product is not usually recommended for use in pregnancy. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should speak to your doctor prior to taking this medication. 

Driving and machinery

Valaciclovir can cause side effects such as dizziness. You should make sure that you feel fine before driving or operating machines.

Page last reviewed:  02/01/2018
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:


Can I still drink alcohol?

Yes, alcohol should not affect your capacity to use Valaciclovir.

Will I still be able to drive?

Some of the side effects associated with this medicine may impair your judgment, and your ability to drive safely. If this occurs, do not drive and speak to a doctor.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

The treatment is not always recommended for use during pregnancy or in those who are breastfeeding, as it could cause harm to mother or child. Only use it if your doctor thinks you need it.

How should I store it?

Never above 30 degrees, and always in an environment protected from moisture and excessive sunlight.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

This medicine contains valaciclovir, calcium hydrogen phosphate, sodium starch glycolate, hydroxypropylcellulose, talcum, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, lactose, titanium dioxide (E171) and macrogol 4000. Do not use the medicine if you have an allergy to any of the above.

Is it available over-the-counter?

No. You can only buy it with a prescription. 

Is it right for me?

We advise that you speak to your doctor in person if you are looking for treatment for herpes. They will be able to discuss treatment and provide a prescription, should one be required.


Page last reviewed:  02/01/2018
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