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Zovirax is a branded antiviral treatment for cold sores and herpes (including genital herpes) made by GSK. It is available as a tablet or as an oral solution for the treatment of herpes and as a cream, or tablet for the treatment of cold sores.  

Getting the cold sores medication you need is easy with our online consultation and prescription service. Approved orders are shipped by tracked next-day courier.

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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

Zovirax is a medicine indicated for the treatment of various types of herpes, including genital herpes and cold sores. It is manufactured by GSK / GlaxoSmithKline and is used to medicate the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and -2), which can cause oral blisters and lesions during periods of activity. Zovirax has been developed into three different forms: a cream, an oral suspension liquid, and a tablet. The cream is typically used for milder outbreaks, while the other versions may be used for more severe cases.

Herpes is the name given to a category of viruses, mostly affecting the skin. Among these are herpes zoster (known more commonly as shingles), and herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2. HSV-1 is the condition which most commonly causes oral cold sores; but these symptoms can be caused by HSV-2 as well.

The herpes simplex virus also causes genital herpes, resulting in painful blisters on and around the genitals. Genital herpes is typically transmitted sexually through having sex with someone who’s infected, and it’s a known sexually transmitted infection.  

Genital herpes is a chronic condition. It stays in the body and is reactivated four or five times on average within the first two years of infection. This frequency does however usually decrease over time and any subsequent outbreaks are generally less severe.

In the majority of cases, people with genital herpes don’t have any symptoms at the point of first infection, and therefore don’t realise that they have the condition. They may develop months or even years later, however. If you do experience symptoms having been infected for the first time, they tend to materialise within four to seven days of infection. 

Symptoms of a primary infection of genital herpes include little blisters that burst, producing red, open sores in the genital and rectal area, as well as on the thighs and buttocks. Blisters and ulcers on the cervix and vaginal discharge in women are also indicative of the infection, as well as pain passing urine and general nausea. 

If the virus is reactivated, you may notice the above symptoms once again, and a burning or itching sensation in the genital area or down the leg, prior to blisters re-emerging. 

Cold sores are pus-filled blisters, which burst and leave small lesions on the lips and around the mouth. The formation of these blisters is preceded by a tingling, numb sensation in the area where they develop. They are self-limiting, and typically clear up within a week or two on their own. Nonetheless, when present they can be uncomfortable and have a distinctly noticeable appearance.

Cold sores are common, but many people who have the virus responsible for cold sores may never develop symptoms at all. However, those that do will typically experience outbreaks which recur with diminishing frequency as they get older.

The most common contributory factor in cold sore reactivations is a weakened immune system, meaning that a person is more likely to experience a flare-up if they are fatigued, or experiencing exhaustion or stress. Other triggers for cold sore reactivations are excessive sunlight, cold weather and trauma.

Cold sores can be transferred through physical contact, such as kissing or oral sex. Cold sores can also be spread through indirect means, such as by sharing eating utensils or glasses.

The virus is most infectious in the period shortly before, during and shortly after sores are present. These sores and lesions remain contagious until they have fully healed, and for a short time afterwards. It is therefore important for people who have a cold sore to avoid kissing or having oral physical contact with others until one week after the area has fully healed.

HSV is relatively common, with around 35,000 new cases of genital herpes being recorded in the UK each year. At present there is no known cure for cold sores. Treatment for the condition therefore aims to reduce the longevity of symptoms, and expedite the recovery process.

The active ingredient in Zovirax is aciclovir. This is a type of antiviral treatment, and features on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines. Aciclovir combines with the immune system to send the herpes simplex virus into remission. It works by curbing the action of DNA polymerase, an enzyme which cells of the virus need to duplicate themselves. After the growth of the virus has been halted, this leaves it open to attack from antibodies, which force the virus to become latent once again.

If you have herpes, genital herpes or cold sores and are looking to get treatment online, you can buy Zovirax from our pharmacy using our secure service. To do this, simply select the form you require and fill out our online questionnaire. A doctor will assess your case, and once your order is approved, your treatment will be delivered the following working day.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022


How you use Zovirax will depend on the severity of your symptoms, and the application method issued to you. Make sure you follow the instructions outlined by your doctor, and always read the safety information leaflet prior to use.

For the treatment of cold sores or herpes, your directions may be as follows:

  1. If you are using Zovirax 5% Cream, apply a thin layer as advised by your doctor to your cold sore(s) five times per day. Spread doses evenly, every four hours.
  2. If you are using Zovirax 200mg tablets, swallow one with water, five times a day. Doses should be spread out evenly, every four hours.
  3. If you are using Zovirax 200mg/5ml oral suspension liquid, take one 5ml spoonful five times per day, spacing your doses at four hour intervals.
  4. Take for the length of time designated by your prescriber. This might be five or more days.
  5. Try to ensure the site of infection remains clean.
  6. Do not exceed the dose prescribed.
  7. Never make up for a missed dose by doubling up on the following one. If you forget to take your medication, simply carry on with the course as prescribed.
  8. If symptoms persist beyond the treatment window, speak to your doctor.

For more information, consult the leaflet provided with the relevant medicine. If you are still unsure how to take your treatment, approach your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

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

Zovirax 200mg/5ml

Zovirax Dispersible 200mg

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

Only a minority of users may experience side effects when using Zovirax. However, it remains important to be aware of them, so that you can respond accordingly if you notice anything unusual while taking this medicine. If you display any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

We've listed side effects for all three versions below, but please note that only the cream and tablet versions are available through our site.

Zovirax Cream

Uncommon (1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 people):

Irritation or itching of the skin, burning sensation, flaking.

Rare (1 in 1000 to 1 in 10000 people):

Redness of the skin, increased sensitivity, dermatitis.

Zovirax Suspension Fluid

Common (1 in 10 to 1 in 100 people):

Headaches, dizziness, stomach pain, increased bowel frequency, skin rashes, skin irritation, increased photosensitivity.

Uncommon (1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 people):
Severe skin rash, hair loss.

Rare (1 in 1000 people to 1 in 10000 people):
Tiredness, breathlessness, confusion, hallucinations, tremors, loss of coordination, abnormal test laboratory results.

Zovirax tablets

Common (1 in 10 to 1 in 100 people):
Heightened photosensitivity, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, skin rashes, itching, fatigue.

Uncommon (1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 people):
Severe irritation of the skin, hair loss.

Rare (1 in 1000 to 1 in 10000 people):
Oral and facial swelling, breathing problems, fluctuating test results, difficulty speaking, liver or kidney problems, photosensitivity, agitation, confusion, feelings of weakness, convulsions, hallucinations, reduced coordination.

The side effects listed for each version of this medication above are only a selection. For a more detailed account of the known possible side effects for each, consult the leaflet supplied with product itself, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. If you begin to experience any of the above or notice anything else which concerns you, seek medical advice or go to your nearest hospital right away.


Taking it with other medicines

Inform your prescribing physician if you are currently using or have recently used any other forms of medication.

Zovirax Cream currently has no known interactions with any other medicines.

The function of Zovirax Dispersible tablets may be affected by probenecid, cimetidine or mycophenolate mofetil.

Zovirax Suspension Fluid may not be suitable for use in conjunction with cimetidine, probenecid or mycophenolate.

Never use more than one treatment for cold sores or any other form of herpes at any one time unless explicitly advised to do so by a doctor.

Conditions to look out for

If you are taking any medicines for liver or kidney problems, AIDS, or if you have a condition which inhibits the function of your immune system, or if you have undergone a bone marrow transplant, then a doctor may choose not to issue Zovirax. Always disclose your medical history to your prescriber so that they can make an informed decision regarding your treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before you use this product if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive or think you might be pregnant.

Driving and machinery

Make sure that Zovirax does not make you feel tired or drowsy before you commence driving or operating machinery.

If you are over 65

Speak to your doctor before using Zovirax if you are over the age of 65.

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

Zovirax 200mg/5ml

Zovirax Dispersible 200mg


Can I still drink alcohol?

Zovirax is not thought to interact with alcohol.

Will I still be able to drive?

The treatment should not inhibit your ability to drive. But, in the event that side effects do occur, your judgment and reaction times may become impaired, and in these cases, we would suggest you avoid driving and seek medical attention.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

Speak to your doctor before using this treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it may not be suitable.

How should I store it?

At room temperature, below 30 degrees. Ensure it is kept in an environment which is not subject to excessive amounts of sunlight or moisture.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

Zovirax Cream contains:

Aciclovir, cetostearyl alcohol, mineral oil, poloxamer 407, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, water, and white petrolatum.

Zovirax tablets contain:

Aciclovir, microcrystalline cellulose, aluminium magnesium silicate, sodium starch glycolate, povidone K30, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, macrogol 400, titanium dioxide [E171], and macrogol 8000.

Zovirax Suspension Fluid contains:

Aciclovir, sorbitol solution, glycerol, dispersible cellulose, methyl parahydroxybenzoate, propyl parahydroxybenzoate, banana flavour, vanillin and purified water.

If you suspect that you may be allergic to any of the ingredients described above, do not use these medications and speak to your doctor about alternative treatment.

Is it available over-the-counter?

Yes. Zovirax cream is available to buy over the counter at the same strength as the version for prescription only medication (5%).

At Treated.com, we offer our customers everything they need in one place, including; a wide choice of products, secure consultations, private prescriptions, a reliable dispensing pharmacy service and speedy delivery. We work with GMC-registered doctors who will only draw up a prescription for you if they deem the treatment safe for you to use.

Is it right for me?

If you have not used Zovirax before or are seeking cold sores treatment for the first time, it is better to check with your doctor in person which is the best option for you.

If you have used Zovirax before, and are looking to get a renewed prescription, our consultation and prescription service lets you get the treatment you need fast. All orders are reviewed by practising doctors, before being dispensed at our UK pharmacy and shipped by tracked delivery.

Page last reviewed:  26/04/2022
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