Aciclovir cream

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  4. Our team of expert prescribers will assess whether medication is suitable.
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About Product
This content has been written and checked for quality and accuracy by
Mohamed Imran Lakhi Content Administrator GPhC: 2060586 Updated on: 26/05/2020 Next review: 26/11/2020

What is Aciclovir Cream?

Aciclovir cream is a topical cream, used to treat cold sores, which contains an antiviral called aciclovir.

What are cold sores? 

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) which can also be passed on to and from the genital areas, through oral sex. Cold sores appear as small fluid filled blisters on the lips or surrounding areas of the face.

When herpes 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 and sunlight exposure. 

The herpes virus, which causes cold sores, can easily be passed on to other people. 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 do I use Aciclovir Cream?

It is advisable to start using aciclovir cream as soon as the infection begins.

Hands should be washed before and after applying the medicine.

Aciclovir cream should be applied on the affected skin and surrounding areas only. Do not use in the mouth, nose or eyes.

The affected area should be clean and dry before applying the medicine.

Apply aciclovir cream 5 times a day at 4 hour intervals, for 5 days.

If there are no improvements after 5 days, the medicine can be used for a further 5 days, after which users should contact a doctor. 

Side effects and cautions

All medicines carry the risk of side effects, though not everybody experiences them.

Uncommon side effects include:

  • Irritation of the skin (burning, itching, stinging)
  • Mild drying or flaking of the skin

These side effects usually go away on their own.

If you experience the signs of an allergic reaction, stop using Aciclovir cream and seek medical attention immediately.

Signs of an allergic reaction may including a rash, itching, weal, swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat and eyes, difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Further information regarding the safety of this medicine can be found in the patient information leaflet enclosed with your medicine.

Always store medicine out of the sight and reach of children.

Please inform our prescriber of the medicines you are currently taking, including prescribed, over the counter and herbal treatments.

Table of contents

What is Aciclovir cream?

What are cold sores?

How does Aciclovir cream work?

How do I use Aciclovir cream?

Side effects and cautions

Treatment information

  • Product Name: Aciclovir cream
  • Active Ingredient(s): Aciclovir
  • Administration: Topical
  • Presentation: Cream
  • Available Strength: 5% w/w
  • Exemption: Prescription only
  • Dosage: Apply a thin layer to the skin up to 5 times a day for 5 days
  • Description: Aciclovir cream is a topical treatment for cold sores
  • Drug Class: Antiviral
  • Alcohol Consumption: No influence
  • When Pregnant: Tell our doctor if you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or plan on becoming pregnant before using Aciclovir cream
  • When Breastfeeding: Tell our doctor if you are breastfeeding before using Aciclovir cream
  • Related Drug: Zovirax
Click here to view the Aciclovir cream - Patient Information Leaflet

Cold sores Alternatives

Zovirax (Aciclovir )

Zovirax (Aciclovir )
  • Helps cold sores heal faster
  • Prevents the spread of the virus
  • Available from our UK registered pharmacy
View Treatment