Antiviral medications for chickenpox (varicella)

Antiviral medications for chickenpox (varicella). Zovirax, Acyclovir and Valtrex

Antiviral medications for chickenpox (varicella). Zovirax, Acyclovir and Valtrex


Dr. Brigitte Mueller-Morel, MD

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is extremely dangerous and infectious, aerosol-transmissible virus. This is one of the viruses of Varicellovirus, herpes virus type 3. The disease begins from the fatigue, high temperature up to 38, and the first rash starts: reddish rash in the form of blisters filled with the clear fluid.

What is chickenpox?

At first single rashes appears mainly on the face, back, and arms. But the next day, the whole body is covered with the rash. Itchy blisters with clear fluid even appear in the mucous membranes: internal part of cheeks, palate, and tongue. These are the most unpleasant places because the rash is often affected there, and the virus may spread on the mucus causing a severe discomfort.

Children easily tolerate the chickenpox, and therefore the recommendations of many doctors include an early infection of a child. So, healthy children are not isolated from a patient in order to cause the virus attack.

The prodrome in children may be not intensive or are expressed poorly. All rash is covered with the skin crust within a week in children, and the virus is not infectious. The febrile state coincides with a period of the outbreak of the rash, and then it does not bother a child.

The chickenpox in adults may cause serious complications and passes with severe prodrome. The disease is accompanied by the high body temperature, intoxication, and severe itching.

Chickenpox in adults

The chickenpox is one of the virulent viruses, an incubation takes 2-3 weeks. Moreover, it is easily transmitted by airborne even if the close contact with patient is absent. The virus may spread for 20-30 meters in the closed space and be active within 10-20 minutes.

If a person has had chickenpox once, a stable immunity is produced to herpes virus type 3. In rare cases, the virus may mutate, the activation of the latent varicella zoster virus happens, and a person has herpes zoster.

Zovirax dosage for chickenpox

Many doctors think that chickenpox needs only symptomatic treatment. However, it is a great mistake. Adults must take the antiviral drugs that will help to relieve the course of the disease and prevent the complications in the form of the herpes zoster.

Zovirax for chickenpox

Zovirax is a rather popular drug in the treatment of the chickenpox. It is prescribed both adults, and children when the disease is accompanied by the intensive intoxication. Acyclovir is able to invade in the cells affected by the virus, and penetrate into the DNA of the virus preventing their replication.

As the viral rash affects the whole body and mucous membranes, it is reasonable to take Zovirax in the form of the tablets. The Zovirax ointment may be used only as an additional product during the severe itching on the skin. The additional application of the ointment for the external use will help you to easily cope with the disease symptoms and reduce the itching on the face.

The dosing of Zovirax during chickenpox does not depend on a severity of the disease and the rash spreading:

  • The tablets are taken 4-5 times per day with the interval of 4-6 hours;
  • A single dose of Zovirax is 200 mg;
  • The Zovirax ointment is applied by a thin layer on the rash and the skin around the rash, and is slightly rubbed into it;
  • Sterilize the skin of the hands after the application of the ointment in order to remove the parts of the virus that could be left on the skin.

The treatment is continued till the end of the active stage of the virus development: it is usually 5 days.

Acyclovir for chickenpox. Dosage

Dr. Brigitte Mueller-Morel, MD: Acyclovir is the active antiviral ingredient in many drugs for the treatment of the chickenpox and other types of the virus herpes. This medication shows a high activity as to different types of the herpes virus, and helps to avoid the relapse of the disease.

Acyclovir for chickenpox

The pills contain 200 mg Acyclovir active ingredient. The period of the action of a dose is short, and therefore to keep a high antiviral activity, it is necessary to take Acyclovir 200 mg every 4 hours within a day.

The optimal option is to take Acyclovir 200 mg 5 times per day. The treatment usually takes up to 5 days but the treatment may also take 10 days in adults who have severe symptoms of the disease.

The use of Acyclovir in a higher dose is pointless because taking 200 mg, the maximum concentration of the active ingredients is achieved in the blood. Increasing the dose, a therapeutic effect is not increased.

Valtrex for chickenpox

Valtrex is another antiviral product for the treatment of the chickenpox. Its advantage is a more active form of Acyclovir, and every pill acts longer. Valtrex is released in the pills in the dose of 500 mg, and so the higher concentration of the active ingredients is achieved in the blood.

Valtrex for chickenpox

Take Valtrex 500 mg 2 times per day during the chickenpox, with the interval of 8-10 hours.

Teenagers at the age of 16 have the treatment from 3 to 5 days, whilst adults have the treatment for up to 7 days. Admittedly, Valtrex is not prescribed children under 12 during the chickenpox. The drug meets all standards of the pharmacological safety, but there is no data about the studies of Valacyclovir in children.

As to the use of Valtrex during the relapse of the disease in adults and a development of the herpes zoster, the treatment goes by another scheme:

  • The recommended dose of Valtrex is 1000 mg 3 times per day within 7 days for the herpes zoster after the infection with chickenpox.

Can you get shingles without chickenpox?

Herpes virus type 3 (varicella zoster) may cause 2 types of the disease:

  • Chickenpox;
  • Herpes zoster;

The chickenpox is considered the primary virus. It is more common, easily transmitted from a patient to healthy person. The chickenpox is often a cause of the herpes zoster, but not always.

In practice, the herpes zoster is a severer type of the chickenpox that is manifested in people with low immunity and people at the age of over 30. According to the clinical studies, patient at the age of over 30 have shingles as a single disease in 68% of cases, and in 32% it is a result of the chickenpox.

Causes why shingles appear without chickenpox are:

  • Vitamin deficit;
  • Strict diet with food restrictions;
  • Lack of sleep and energy;
  • Chronic stress;
  • Chemotherapy during the oncological diseases;
  • HIV infection.

As we can see, the herpes zoster appears in special conditions when the body has stress, and the immunity is not able to resist the disease. Therefore, even if a person has never had the chickenpox but this person got infected by varicella zoster at mature age, the disease will have a severer type of the herpes zoster.

But some scientists state that having the chickenpox as a child, a resistance of the varicella zoster is increased by 20%, and so a risk of the development of the herpes zoster is reduced at mature age. However, the herpes virus type 3 is very infectious, and a connection of the shingles and chickenpox is still unknown.

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