1 What is Zovirax?

Brand: Zovirax

Generic: Acyclovir (Topical Route)

Zovirax is an antiviral which is used for the treatment of symptoms caused by infection of chickenpox, shingles, herpes virus infections in adults and newborns.  It is also used to avoid recurrence of herpes infections of genitalia in adults. It is a prescription drug which is available in the form of cream and ointment.

2 What to know before using

Before using Zovirax, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

The patient is the authoritative figure when it comes to any medical procedure or any drug therapy. It is important for the patient to know all the details about the drug and then start using it.

Doctor also has a duty to bring out answers from the patient which play important role in treatment like history, any allergy or any medical condition the patient has. For this purpose, it is important to have a detailed session between patient and the physician before starting this drug to sort out all the details.

Detailed history of a patient is extremely important prior to any medical therapy and in this case it is more likely that a drug be started after it. Allergies or any history of allergy to any drug, food, preservatives, dyes or animal products; history of drug usage, past medical or surgical procedure should also be kept in record to predict any drug interaction.

Physical examination should be done before starting this drug so that any physiological or pathological condition by which this drug may interfere may be ruled out.

Age specific analysis is vital to have information about side effects of different age groups. Studies in children reveal that it is safe for use in this age group.

Elderly patients are more sensitive to this drug and are more prone to:

  • agitation,
  • confusion,
  • dizziness and drowsiness.

Studies have shown that it also poses minimal risk to pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Drug interactions are the effects on the therapy or the condition for which the drug is used by other drugs used concomitantly. It is necessary that no drug be started without consulting a physician as other drug may cause alteration in the effect of drug or its removal from the body. The use of certain drugs results in increase in the interactions and hence their usage with this drug is either avoided or used in low dosage if necessary at all.

The drugs like foscarnet, fosphenytoin, mycophenolate, mofetil, mycophenolic acid, phenytoin and valproic acid cause increase in side effects and should be used with great caution. Patient should also be counselled about effects of alcohol and tobacco on the patient as these may cause severe interactions.

3 Proper usage

To use Zovirax properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

Acyclovir is a prescription drug which has an information leaflet which should be read in detail before starting this drug.

For optimum treatment of chickenpox, it is necessary to start this drug as early as possible after appearance of the rash.

To maximize its effects, it is necessary to use this drug for the whole duration as indicated by the physician and do not over or under use it.

The use of finger cot or rubber glove while applying this medication can help prevent the spread of infection of other parts of the body. 

4 Precautions to take

Before using Zovirax, there are some precautions you must take.

Precautions are the part and parcel of any treatment and patient must adhere to these to improve the outcome. It is the duty of the doctor or any medical care provider to make the patient aware about these tips as an aid to the therapy.

Regular checkup is necessary to look for the progress of the treatment.

The affected areas should be kept clean and dry.

Wear loose fitting clothes to avoid irritation.

Women with genital herpes should get cervical smear (pap smear) once a year for screening of cervical cancer.

Avoid sexual activity during the acute phase of infection.

Use of condom can help in avoiding spread of infection from one person to another.

Do not start any other drug, prescription or non-prescription, without consulting your physician.

Store it in a dry place at room temperature. Keep it away from the reach of children.

5 Potential side effects

Make sure you meet with your doctor in using Zovirax to avoid unwanted potential side effects.

There is no drug in the world which is without its unwanted effects.

Some drugs are relatively safe for use while for some drug, the patient should be cautious as these drugs may cause more harm than good.

Patient should always get medical help in case of any adverse effect, no matter how much trivial it is.

Common side effects include itching or irritation at the site of application.