Two hands holding Wisp Valacyclovir and Acyclovir glass jars with a light blue background

Which Herpes Medicine
is More Effective -
Valacyclovir or Acyclovir?

By Lizzie De La Cruz
October 18, 2021

Genital herpes is an extremely common sexually transmitted disease that is manageable and treatable, but as yet, there is no cure for it. Many people who have HSV (the virus that causes herpes) experience periodic outbreaks that can be painful. There are two very effective herpes medications that help prevent and manage outbreaks: acyclovir and valacyclovir. Although they have different names, they are almost identical medications. Both fall in the category of antiviral medications, and both block the virus from multiplying. Is there any difference between these herpes medications? Is one more effective than the other?

The answer is no. There is very little difference between these two herpes medications. Both are prescribed for the Herpes Simplex Virus 2, also known as HSV-2. Valacyclovir and Acyclovir are generic names for the medication. The active component in valacyclovir is acyclovir. In fact, your body will convert valacyclovir into acyclovir in the body after you take it.

How do they help?

Both these antiviral herpes medications can be used to treat herpes, shingles, and chicken pox by preventing the virus from multiplying and replicating. They don’t cure, but they lessen symptoms and provide relief.

What is the difference, then?

The difference in the two herpes medications is the way they are taken, and the dosages of the pills prescribed. Acyclovir is available as a capsule, a tablet, or as an ointment. Valacyclovir is only a tablet, and it can be a bit more expensive for some because it is more common as a name brand. Acyclovir is commonly both generic and branded.

Know your virus

When seeking the most effective herpes medications, the best thing is to consult a medical provider for initial treatment first. There are two ways to use antiviral medications to manage herpes outbreaks:

Episode Treatment

Episodic treatment will allow you to react to symptoms and take medication as needed. This type of treatment regimen focuses on reducing symptoms and lessening the impact time each of the flare-ups has on your life. The antiviral pill should still be taken, but this can be made more effective with similar ointments and creams on the blisters and lesions themselves.

Suppressive Treatment

The other type of treatment regimen is suppressive treatment, which focuses on taking medication to control and suppress the number and severity of the outbreaks. This one works better for someone who has many outbreaks each year.

Your medical provider will help you understand which treatment and herpes medication is best for your symptoms. Often, it depends on the frequency of the outbreaks and the extent to which they interfere with daily life. The pills you’re prescribed will come in different doses and directions for taking them. Always follow your provider's instructions for the best, most effective outcomes.

Both herpes medications will reduce the severity of symptoms and block more outbreaks

Using the pills with a topical cream of the same type increases the effectiveness. However, initially, it is best to consult a medical provider for a personal treatment plan of your own. The virus that causes herpes is quite common, and recurring. The first time is always the worst, and it is the hardest to come to terms with. Once your provider has given advice, be sure to have the right herpes medication on hand for when it is needed. It makes things easier.

Get Herpes Medication Online

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