Have Underlying Health Conditions
Some underlying health conditions can make it unsafe for some people to take Valtrex. For instance, people with kidney problems or kidney disease could experience adverse symptoms from taking Valtrex. You should also talk to your doctor before taking Valtrex if you have HIV.
Valtrex is not recommended for treating cold sores in children 11 years and younger. However, it can treat other viral infections, such as chickenpox, in children two years and older.
Tips For Managing Herpes Symptoms
The symptoms of herpes can be painful and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are a few things you can easily do at home to help ease these symptoms, including:
- Apply an ice pack or warm compress to the affected area.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen.
- Keep the affected area clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoid tight clothing that may irritate genital sores.
- Dont pop blisters or pick at scabs that form over the sores.
- Ask your healthcare provider to recommend a painkilling cream.
Taking proper care of your skin and overall health while experiencing an outbreak can help to prevent complications like infection and assist in faster healing for your sores. Keep in mind that you are especially contagious during an outbreak, so its best to avoid intimate contact, such as kissing or sex, until the sores heal.
How Should You Take Valtrex During A Cold
If you are experiencing a herpes flare-up, start taking Valtrex as soon as you notice the initial symptomsredness, tingling, burning, itchiness, and swelling in and around the mouth. Thats when the drug is most effective.
Take Valtrex as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not take the drug in higher or lower dosages or for more extended periods than your doctor recommends. Stick to the prescription even if your symptoms improve before the prescribed length ends. You risk making the virus resistant to antiviral medications by skipping doses.
Additionally, you should take Valtrex with a full glass of water . The water will help your kidneys process the drug more efficiently. Swallowing medications such as Valtrex without enough water may prevent them from acting properly. In some cases, it may even lead to adverse side effects.
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How Long Does It Take To Work
How long it takes Valtrex to work depends on several factors, including the severity of the outbreak and how quickly you take it after you know an outbreak is starting. Valtrex is usually prescribed for a 7- to 10-day period, which is close to the time it takes for the herpes blisters to heal. But if your doctor prescribes the drug for a longer period, you should take it for that entire period, even if you feel relief quickly.
For people who have repeated herpes outbreaks and are familiar with the signs that precede an outbreak, the drug may be prescribed for a shorter period of around five days. Many people who take Valtrex notice some relief from symptoms within two or three days with healing of the blisters after about a week. Again, the sooner during an outbreak a person starts taking Valtrex, the shorter and less severe the outbreak generally is.
Is Valtrex Safe To Take While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
You may wonder if you can take Valtrex while pregnant or when breastfeeding. As an expectant mother, talk to your healthcare provider if youre thinking about taking Valtrex. They will tell you how it might affect your pregnancy. Your doctor may prescribe Valtrex if the benefit is felt to outweigh the risk of potential side effects.
Generally, Valtrex is safe to take during breastfeeding. Again, you should always consult a healthcare professional about taking it while nursing.
What Drugs And Food Should I Avoid While Taking Valtrex
Avoid sexual intercourse or use a latex condom to help keep you from spreading the herpes virus to others. Avoid letting infected areas come into contact with other people. Avoid touching an infected area and then touching your eyes. Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of infection.
Valacyclovir will not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases other than the virus that causes genital herpes.
Do not share this medicine with another person, even if they have the same symptoms you have.
Do Regular Sti Tests Include Herpes
No. If you dont have symptoms, STI testing includes gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis, and only involves time with a medical assistant. The Centers for Disease Control does not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms.
If you think youve been exposed to herpes, but you arent showing symptoms, make sure to tell your health care provider prior to getting tested. At Planned Parenthood, herpes testing requires a visit with the nurse practitioner.
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Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
What You Need To Know
- Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
- Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
- If you know you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, cesarean section may be recommended.
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Can It Lie Dormant
The herpes virus can lie dormant in the body for years before people experience any symptoms.
After people have the first outbreak of herpes, the virus then lies dormant in the nervous system. Any further outbreaks are due to the virus reactivating, which causes symptoms to appear.
Symptoms are usually less severe during repeat outbreaks. Sores also clear up more quickly, often within 37 days. This is due to the antibodies the body produces to fight the first outbreak of herpes. The body can then use these antibodies to respond more quickly to future outbreaks.
There is currently no cure for herpes. Even if a person stops experiencing symptoms, the virus will remain inside their body.
It is also important to point out that herpes is transmissible even when no sores or other symptoms are present. For this reason, early prevention is advisable.
Condoms and dental dams do not offer complete protection against the herpes virus, as herpes can live on areas around the genitals. However, these methods do reduce the likelihood of contracting the infection or passing it on.
A person who has herpes can also take other steps to reduce the chance of passing it on to a sexual partner. Such steps include telling their sexual partner that they have herpes before having sex.
Both people can then take additional steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission. These steps may include:
How Quickly Does It Work
Valtrex is an antiviral medication, which means it can help shorten the duration of cold sores.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, cold sores can last for around 1012 days without treatment. Valtrex may reduce the formation of cold sore blisters by up to 2 days.
Valtrex may cause side effects for some people. According to the NLM, the most common side effects may include:
The most common side effect is a headache.
The NLM also state that dizziness is a common side effect in people using Valtrex for cold sores.
Other symptoms may occur when treating either shingles or herpes with Valtrex at different or prolonged doses.
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Management Of Sex Partners
The sex partners of persons who have symptomatic genital herpes can benefit from evaluation and counseling. Symptomatic sex partners should be evaluated and treated in the same manner as patients who have symptomatic genital herpes. Asymptomatic sex partners of patients who have symptomatic genital herpes should be asked about a history of genital symptoms and offered type-specific serologic testing for HSV-2. For partners without genital herpes, no data are available on which to base a recommendation for PEP or PrEP with antiviral medications or that they would prevent acquisition, and this should not be offered to patients as a prevention strategy.
How Is Genital Herpes Treated
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. There is antiviral medicines for herpes, which can: shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
The antiviral treatment is most effective when you take it within the first five days of symptoms appearing. Avoid touching the blisters as this can also increase the risk of spreading the infection. If your herpes treatment requires you to apply cream to a sore, just gently pat the cream on, being careful not to rub around the surrounding area.
You can ease your symptoms by:
- keeping the affected area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters or ulcers from becoming infected
- applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to any blisters or ulcers to reduce the pain when passing urine
- asking a healthcare provider to recommend painkilling creams
- avoiding tight clothing because it may irritate the blisters and ulcers.
Dont have sex until you or your partner have finished your treatment, and the blisters or ulcers have gone. If its your first outbreak, its sometimes advised that you check back with a healthcare provider before having sex again, to ensure that your symptoms have gone.
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For Children 11 Years And Younger
Valtrex is not recommended for treating cold sores in children of this age group. But it can be used to treat chickenpox in children ages 2 years and older.
- Take Valtrex at the first sign of a cold sore.
- You can take it with or without food.
- Dont take more than the prescribed number of caplets each day.
- If your child cant swallow caplets, ask your pharmacist to make the caplets into an oral suspension .
- Be sure to drink lots of water. Since your kidneys help remove the metabolized drug from your body, its important to stay hydrated to lower the risk of serious side effects, such as kidney damage.
Differences Between Oral And Genital Herpes Outbreaks
The location of the sores is the main difference between the two types of herpes. Oral herpes sores generally develop on the mouth and lips, usually at the border of the lip where it meets the skin of the face.
Genital herpes sores can occur in a wider variety of locations depending on where the virus entered the body. These locations may include:
- For women and men:
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When And How Much Do You Take
Because Valtrex is a prescription, your dosage will depend on what your doctor decides is best for you. But most people take 2,000 milligrams twice a day, starting at the very first sign of a cold sore, Breisch says. If you get cold sores often, youll recognize the early tingling stage, when a sore is starting to form.
Even if you dont catch the infection right away, Valtrex is still highly effective if you begin taking it within 48 hours of an outbreak, Bryan says.
Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication
Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.
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When To See A Medical Provider
If you notice any serious adverse effects while taking Valtrex, seek medical advice immediately. You should also see a medical provider if:
- You have frequent cold sore outbreaks
- The cold sores dont heal within ten days of taking Valtrex
- There are sores in your mouth, or you have swollen gums
- You have a weakened immune system
- You think your cold sores might be something else
- You have questions concerning your medication
When Treatments For Genital Herpes Are Given
- Initial treatment. If you have symptoms such as sores when you’re first diagnosed with genital herpes, your doctor will usually give you a brief course of antiviral therapy to relieve them or prevent them from getting worse. Your doctor may keep you on the drugs longer if the sores don’t heal in that time.
After the first treatment, work with your doctor to come up with the best way to take antiviral therapies. There are two options:
- Intermittent treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug for you to keep on hand in case you have another flare-up this is called intermittent therapy. You can take the pills for two to five days as soon as you notice sores or when you feel an outbreak coming on. Sores will heal and disappear on their own, but taking the drugs can make the symptoms less severe and make them go away faster.
- Suppressive treatment. If you have outbreaks often, you may want to consider taking an antiviral drug every day. Doctors call this suppressive therapy. For someone who has more than six outbreaks a year, suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks by 70% to 80%. Many people who take the antiviral drugs daily have no outbreaks at all.
There is no set number of outbreaks per year that doctors use to decide when someone should start suppressive therapy. Rather, more important factors are how often the outbreaks happen and if they are severe enough to interfere with your life.
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How Does Valtrex Work For Cold Sores
Antiviral medications dont kill viruses directly, so cold sores cant be curedthey can only be treated to manage the symptoms.
Antivirals stop viruses from causing more harm by suppressing their ability to multiply or develop.
Valtrex is a prescription-only antiviral medication recommended for treating cold sores and preventing outbreaks in people who get cold sores often.
Valtrex is a prodrug of acyclovir, meaning it turns into acyclovir once its in your body.
Valtrex works on cold sores by binding to the DNA of the herpes virus and stopping it from multiplying, preventing outbreaks, and shortening the duration of symptoms once they develop.
Type Of Tests Used To Diagnose Herpes
There are four main types of diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose herpes. Your doctor will determine which type of test to use based on whether an outbreak is present or not.
If youre experiencing what you believe to be a herpes outbreak, your doctor can use a viral culture test or virus antigen detection test. If youre not experiencing symptoms, you can have an antibody test.
- Viral culture test.This test is used to determine if a sore contains the herpes virus. This test can sometimes produce a false-negative, meaning that it may not detect the virus even though its present.
- Virus antigen detection test. This test is used to determine if antigens to the herpes virus are present in a sore or lesion.
- Antibody test. If youre not experiencing an outbreak yet but still believe you may have been exposed, you can opt to have an antibody test performed. This test will only show a positive result if the antibodies to the virus have been developed. Therefore, this test isnt necessarily recommended for recent exposure.
- Polymerase chain reaction test. With this test, a healthcare provider can screen a sample of your blood or tissue from a sore. They can use this to determine if HSV is present and which type you have.
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How Do You Take Valtrex
Cold sore medication can be administered orally or in antiviral creams. Creams must be applied several times daily and are less effective than oral medications. Oral tablets are available in 500-milligram and 1-gram strengths
For an adult looking to treat cold sores, a healthcare professional will typically prescribe two grams twice daily, taken 12 hours apart, for ten days. For the best outcomes, oral medications such as Valtrex should be taken at the initial sign of a cold sore.
Note that Valtrex is not just used to treat cold sores. A doctor may also prescribe Valtrex or another antiviral medication to prevent cold sores. Taking Valtrex daily reduces the chances of cold sores recurring by about 30%.
What Does A Herpes Outbreak Feel Like
As mentioned above, the onset of a herpes outbreak is often associated with tingling, itching, or burning around the affected area.
Blisters and ulcers are unfortunately painful and can cause discomfort.
If this is your first outbreak your symptoms will likely be worse than any recurring outbreaks. Common symptoms associated with initial outbreaks are fever, headache, and other flu-like symptoms.
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