Herpes Home > Acyclovir Ointment

Acyclovir ointment is typically prescribed to treat certain types of genital herpes infections and cold sores. It helps the body fight the infection by preventing the virus from multiplying. Prior to using the ointment, tell your healthcare provider if you have any allergies, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Possible side effects can include mild pain, itching, and swelling.

What Is Acyclovir Ointment?

Acyclovir ointment (Zovirax® ointment) is a prescription antiviral medication approved for the following uses:
  • Treating an initial genital herpes infection (but not subsequent outbreaks) in people with normal immune systems
  • Treating non-life-threatening genital herpes or cold sores in people with weakened immune systems (such as those with HIV or AIDS).
This article refers to the ointment form of acyclovir, which is different from the cream form (see Acyclovir Cream).
(Click What Is Acyclovir Ointment Used For? for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Side Effects

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with acyclovir ointment. However, not everyone who uses the drug will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can be treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Common side effects of acyclovir ointment include but are not limited to:
  • Mild pain, including temporary burning or stinging
  • Itching
  • Swelling where the medication was applied.
(Click Acyclovir Ointment Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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