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How Effective Is Valtrex?

Effects of Valtrex

Several studies have examined how well Valtrex treats shingles, cold sores, and genital herpes.
In one study, people younger than 50 years of age with shingles were treated with Valtrex within three days of the beginning of a rash. In people who were not treated with the drug, it took three days for the formation of new blisters to stop. For the people who were treated with Valtrex, the blisters stopped forming one day sooner. The drug will not, however, change the length or severity of postherpetic neuralgia, which is severe pain that can occur after the shingles rash has healed. Valtrex is also not a cure for shingles.
Cold Sores
When the drug was given to people at the very first signs of a cold sore, the cold sores healed one day faster when compared to people who were not given the drug. Although it helped cold sores heal faster, the medication did not stop the cold sores from appearing once the symptoms had started. Therefore, Valtrex is not a cure for cold sores.
Genital Herpes
For people who took the drug to treat their first genital herpes infection, the lesions healed in nine days, on average, and people had pain for five days, on average. For outbreaks in people who had previously been infected, it took an average of four days for the lesions to heal (compared to six days for people who were not taking the drug).
About 65 percent of people who took Valtrex every day were outbreak-free for six months, compared to only 26 percent of people who were not treated. Taking it every day also decreased the chance of spreading genital herpes to sexual partners. After eight months, less than 1.9 percent of partners of the people who were taking daily Valtrex were infected, compared to 3.6 percent of partners of people who were not taking the drug. However, as with cold sores and shingles, Valtrex is not a cure for genital herpes.
Valtrex was approved for treating chickenpox in children based on studies of acyclovir (Zovirax®), a very similar medication. Other studies have shown that Valtrex (which the body transforms into acyclovir) is safe in children.
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