Aciclovir Cream is a topical cream, used to treat cold sores, which contains an antiviral called aciclovir (acyclovir).
It is the generic alternative to Zovirax cream, which is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
What are cold sores?
Cold sores appear as small fluid filled blisters on the lips or surrounding areas of the face.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). The herpes virus is contagious, and is often spread through kissing or oral sex. It is estimated that more than 2 thirds of adults in the UK carry herpes.
If you are unsure whether you have herpes, you can get an STI test. A simple urine test can determine whether you have HSV-1 or HSV-2.
When the herpes virus infects the body, it targets the nerve cells and tissues around the face, which causes the outbreak of cold sores.
Although the immune system attacks the virus initially, the body doesn’t completely get rid of the virus.
Herpes virus can lay dormant in nerve cells and tissue for months or years and resurface, occasionally causing recurrent outbreaks when the body is exposed to triggers. Some common triggers for recurrent outbreaks are stress, menstruation or sunlight exposure.
There is currently no cure to permanently remove the herpes virus from the body and prevent cold sore outbreaks, but there are antiviral medicines that can treat symptoms and speed up healing during an outbreak.
Treatment should be started immediately to improve symptoms like itching, painful and unsightly cold sores.
How does Aciclovir Cream work?
The antiviral agent aciclovir, prevents the herpes virus from multiplying in the tissues and nerve cells of the body.
Infected cells convert aciclovir to aciclovir triphosphate which inhibits an enzyme the virus uses to make copies of itself.
This allows the immune system to fight the virus into remission.
While aciclovir cream helps to improve the recovery time of a flare up, it doesn’t prevent the spread of herpes.
How long does Aciclovir cream take to work?
Aciclovir cream usually takes between 3 and 4 days to start working.
If you do not notice an improvement after using Aciclovir for 5 days, speak to your doctor.
How do I use Aciclovir Cream?
It is advisable to start using aciclovir cream as soon as the infection begins.
Wash your hands before and after using aciclovir cream.
Aciclovir cream should be applied on the affected skin and surrounding areas only.
Do not apply aciclovir cream in the mouth, nose or eyes.
If you or someone else accidentally swallows aciclovir cream, seek immediate medical attention by going straight to your nearest accident and emergency department.
The affected area should be clean and dry before applying the medicine.
Apply aciclovir cream 5 times a day, leaving 4 hours between doses, for 5 days.
If there are no improvements after 5 days, the medicine can be used for a further 5 days. If there is no improvement in your symptoms after 10 days of using aciclovir cream, stop using the cream and speak to your doctor.
What should I do if I accidentally use more aciclovir than I should?
If you accidentally use more aciclovir cream than you should, or accidentally swallow the cream, seek immediate medical attention by going straight to the nearest accident and emergency department. Remember to take the packaging and any remaining medicine with you so the doctors know exactly what you took.
What should I do if I forget to use aciclovir cream when I should?
If you miss your dose of aciclovir cream, apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. Continue to apply the remaining doses for the day, giving at least 4-hour intervals between doses. Do not apply more aciclovir cream to make up for the missed dose.