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Side Effects of Zovirax

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Patients with oral or genital herpes should learn about the side effects of Zovirax before filling a prescription.

Zovirax is the brand name for a topical cream or ointment and an oral capsule sold only by prescription for the treatment of herpes simplex virus- 1, herpes simplex virus- 2, herpes zoster (shingles), and chickenpox. The generic name for Zovirax is acyclovir.

Acyclovir, or Zovirax, is an antiviral drug. It works by decreasing the length and severity of herpes outbreaks, helping sores and blisters to heal faster, and reducing the pain and itching associated with herpes, shingles, and chickenpox.

Unfortunately, Zovirax does not “cure” herpes. The herpes virus remains in the body forever. People with herpes can infect their partners and other people around them even between outbreaks.

Before automatically filling a prescription for Zovirax, it is important to learn about the side effects of the drug. Knowing the side effects of Zovirax will help patients with oral and genital herpes make informed decisions about their health care.

Common side effects of Zovirax

According to Drugs.com, there are five common side effects of Zovirax. While no one may experience every side effect of Zovirax, it is important to understand that if any of these symptoms are experienced, that they could be related to the drug.

By far, the most commonly reported patient side effect of Zovirax is nausea. However, in clinical trials testing the toxicity of Zovirax, only 2.7% of participants in the trials experienced nausea.

When Zovirax is used in suppressive therapy for herpes, the most common long term side effects were nausea and diarrhea. Approximately 4.8% of patients become nauseous while taking Zovirax, and 2.4% of patients experience diarrhea.

Most Common Side Effects of All Zovirax Treatments
Visual changes
Sensitivity to sunlight


Zovirax comes in a topical cream and ointment, as well as an oral capsule. Zovirax cream is usually used to treat oral herpes or cold sores. The most common side effects of Zovirax cream are:

Most Common Side Effects of Zovirax Cream
Stinging or burning at the site of a herpes outbreak
Dry or cracked lips
Flaky skin


The most common side effects of Zovirax ointment occur at the outbreak site in genital herpes. They are:

Most Common Side Effect of Zovirax Ointment
Burning or stinging


When taken orally, the most common side effects of Zovirax are:

Most Common Side Effects of Zovirax Capsules
Nausea and vomiting
Body aches


Serious side effects of Zovirax

A few people experience serious side effects from taking Zovirax. These more serious side effects of Zovirax are much less common than the side effects listed above. A trusted health care provider should be contacted if any of the following side effects occur:

Possible Serious Side Effects from Zovirax
Rash, hives, or intense itching (urticaria)
Swelling of the mouth or tongue
Chest tightening
Agitated or aggressive behavior
Dark urine, blood in the urine, or painful urination
Confusion or hallucinations
Blacking out
Back or stomach pain


Zovirax capsules may also present these serious side effects:

Possible Serious Side Effects of Zovirax Capsules
Mental or mood changes
Red, swollen, blistering, or peeling skin
Unusual bruising or bleeding


Rare side effects of Zovirax

In addition to the above side effects of Zovirax, there have been reported cases of the following rare side effects of Zovirax:

Rare Side Effects of Zovirax
Kidney stones, kidney failure, and associated neurotoxicity
Major depression
Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Liver issues such as jaundice and hepatitis
Anaphylactic shock


Drugs.com, “Zorivax Side Effects

Acyclovir- informal, “Zorivax Side Effects”

Webmaster, “Drugs and medications: Zorivax Oral”

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