Valtrex Side Effects

by on January 15, 2012


Valtrex is well tolerated by the majority of patients. The most common Valtrex side effects are headaches, especially in younger patients. Individuals with HIV disease may also experience more pronounced and serious side effects in association with Valtrex, so it is important for these patients to discuss the pros and cons of this medication with their doctor. Other common side effects that have been documented include nausea, vomiting and dizziness. In rare cases, depression and kidney damage may result from Valtrex usage.

Common Valtrex Side Effects

The most common Valtrex side effects are typically mild and include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach or abdominal pain

Other mild side effects that are less common include:

  • Painful menstruation in women
  • Depression
  • Joint pain
  • Low blood cell counts
  • Mild rash
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose


Patients with HIV typically experience different side effects including:

  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Tiredness

Serious Valtrex Side Effects

Allergic reactions to Valtrex (valcyclovir) are rare. If you experience any of the following side effects, you may be having an allergic reaction and should contact your health care provider immediately.

  • Rash or hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face and throat
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Difficulty breathing

Other serious side effects may indicate a more dangerous underlying condition. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the rare but serious side effects listed below.

  • Changes in vision such as blurring or double vision
  • Blisters or peeling of the skin
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Unexplained aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Unsteady movement
  • Speech problems
  • Changes in the amount of urine
  • Slow or fast heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin


Depression is one of the more common side effects of Valtrex, occurring in up to 7 percent of patients taking it for the suppression of genital herpes. Patients taking Valtrex (valcyclovir) should be aware of the following depression symptoms. Consult your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Persistent sadness, hopelessness, guilt or pessimism
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Changes in sleep patterns such as fatigue and oversleeping or insomnia
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thoughts about or attempts at committing suicide

You may also experience physical side effects that are actually a symptom of depression. Headaches, pain and nausea that do not respond to normal treatment options can be a sign of depression. Seek help immediately if any of these symptoms apply to you.


Valtrex has not been adequately studied in relation to pregnancy. This medication is considered a Category B pregnancy drug. This indicates that the side effects are not known, but the medication appears to be safe. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you should discuss the potential side effects as well as the potential benefits with your doctor to determine whether this treatment is right for you.

Kidney Disease

Damage to the kidneys is one of the most serious valcyclovir side effects. Kidney failure is not common on this medication, but patients should be aware of any symptoms associated with this complication. You are more likely to experience this if your immune system is already compromised by HIV disease or an organ transplant. You may be experiencing a life-threatening disorder if you experience any of the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine

Side effects associated with Valtrex rarely cause the patient to stop taking the medication entirely. In most cases, the side effects can be managed. Be aware of the more dangerous side effects associated with depression or kidney disease, and always consult your doctor if you feel that something isn’t right.