Valtrex Use for Shingles

by on July 2, 2012

Valtrex (valcyclovir)  is a prescription medicine approved for treatment of herpetic infections including shingles (herpes zoster). Others include chickenpox, cold sores, and genital herpes.

Shingles or herpes zoster is caused by the varicella zoster virus (also known as human herpes virus-3 or HHV-3) which belongs to the eight herpes viruses that can possibly infect humans. Its causative agent is the same as the one that causes primary varicella infection or chickenpox. Usually, people contract this virus as a child. Although the symptoms of chickenpox resolve, the virus is not completely lost from the system. It remains inactive in certain nerve cells. Once triggered by illness or stress, the virus is reactivated causing shingles.


For the treatment of Shingles, the recommended daily dosage of Valtrex is 1 gram taken 3 times a day for 1 week.  Treatment should be initiated at first sign or symptom of shingles or within 48 hours of appearance of rash.

Symptoms of Shingles

Shingles is often diagnosed through its clinical manifestation that often makes it easily distinguishable. Its definitive symptom is rashes on one side of the body accompanied by tingling or burning pain; although some patients may not exhibit characteristic rash.  Usually, the rash forms into cluster of fluid-filled blisters that may break and start to ooze. If this happens, you can spread the virus to other people who have never been infected with it. Shingles pain can be quite severe and can linger long after dermatologic symptoms have resolved (a condition called postherpetic neuralgia).

To hasten recovery and prevent postherpetic neuralgia, antiviral medication, such as Valtrex, should be taken at onset of symptoms. The treatment should continue for up to 7 days.

Benefits of Using Valtrex for Shingles

Valtrex (valacyclovir) serves as a “prodrug” which is converted into acyclovir once absorbed by the body. It works by slowing down the growth and spread of shingles and also helps treat pain. By slowing the growth of herpes zoster virus, it reduces the severity of rash and speeds up recovery.

When taken for treatment of shingles, Valtrex can help make this viral infection less painful and severe. Usually, the shingle rash has 3 days to spread before the body can stop it. Valtrex helps reduce the amount of time needed by the virus to spread. By slowing down the spread of rash, Valtrex can help calm the pain during shingles.

Valtrex can also help heal the rash much faster. If taken at the onset of symptoms, Valtrex may also help reduce the severity and duration of pain associated with shingles or postherpetic neuralgia. It is important to remember that Valtrex is not a cure for shingles.  The herpes virus will stay in the body and remain inactive.