Viruses that have invaded the body attack individual body cells and bring numerous enzymes of their own into the cell, which should ensure that the virus can multiply unhindered in the attacked cell. If there are enough viruses in the cell, the cell often bursts and the viruses swarm out to infect other cells and also multiply in them. Aciclovir only penetrates the cells that are infected by viruses.
Interestingly, healthy cells are not attacked by acyclovir. This ensures that the body remains largely unaffected by an acyclovir treatment. The virus needs an enzyme to multiply.
This enzyme, called thymidine kinase, attaches phosphate to thymidine and helps the virus’ genetic material to multiply. This is where Aciclovir comes in and activates the thymidine before it has come into contact with the viral enzyme. This leads to a break in the chain of replication and stops the spread of the virus in the cell.
However, it is important to know that the group of herpes viruses remains in the body for life, in the case of herpes simplex mainly in the nerve cells. Aciclovir only reaches the cells that are affected by stress or a weakened immune system during an outbreak of the virus, but not the nerve cells themselves. For this reason, it can only contribute to alleviating symptoms but not to complete recovery.
Due to the special enzyme use of the herpes virus, acyclovir can only work on these viruses, or more precisely, only on those of the herpes viruses of the alpha group. Other viruses of the herpes family which belong to the beta or gamma group are not treated as successfully with acyclovir. These include the Epstein-Barr virus which causes glandular fever or the cytomegalovirus.
As a tablet, Aciclovir works about one to two hours after ingestion. To reach high concentrations very quickly, the drug must be administered to the patient by infusion. Aciclovir is excreted through the kidneys after the effect. Restricted renal activity can therefore be a contraindication to the use of acyclovir and should be taken into account.
Dosage forms of Aciclovir
Aciclovir ointment is used very often and is also available without prescription in pharmacies. The main area of application is lip herpes, which can develop in the area of the upper or lower lip or even at the corners of the mouth. In the case of a single occurrence and weaker severity, an attempt to treat the condition with acyclovir ointment can be made in any case and acyclovir tablets should not be taken.
Aciclovir as an ointment should be applied regularly to the affected skin areas around the lips. It is important that it is applied at least 5 times a day, with an interval of about 4 hours between each application. As soon as the complaints in the lip area have disappeared and the corresponding skin crusts are no longer visible, the ointment can be discontinued.
Only after frequent and recurring lip herpes infections can one consider taking aiclovir as a tablet in order to achieve a higher dose and a long-lasting effect. Aciclovir ointment is usually very well tolerated. In some cases, however, skin irritation or redness may occur after application to the skin area, burning or itching may occur and the skin may flake.
In this case the ointment should be discontinued. Sometimes, even if shingles on the trunk is very mild, aciclovir ointment can be used instead of tablets. However, the success rate is mixed, so if there is no improvement, the treatment should be switched to tablets as soon as possible.
Aciclovir as an eye ointment is available only on prescription and must be prescribed. The preparation is marketed in some countries under the name Zovirax® and is mainly approved for herpes infections of the eye. A herpes infection is a dangerous condition that must be treated by an ophthalmologist.
The risk of impaired vision or loss of vision requires prompt and consistent treatment. The disease, also known as zoster ophthalmicus, is characterised by the formation of blisters around the eye. The Aciclovir eye ointment should be applied regularly to the affected area of skin (at least 5 times a day with a four-hour time difference).
As it is an ointment, Aciclovir eye ointment should also be applied to the conjunctiva area. This can lead to blurred vision, but this improves within the first half hour after application. During this time you should not drive a car.
If, after a few days, there is either a worsening of the blister formation around the eye or a deterioration in vision, an ophthalmologist must be consulted immediately. Possible side effects of using Aciclovir eye ointment are conjunctival irritation in the area of the eye, as well as redness, burning and itching. There may also be severe lacrimation.
Whether or not treatment should be discontinued or not should be avoided should be discussed in detail with an ophthalmologist, as treatment of herpes zoster in the eye is urgently needed. The independent discontinuation of the Aciclovir eye ointment should be avoided without consultation. Zovirax® eye ointment Aciclovir is administered in various situations via an access directly into the vein.
In general, the drug can always be administered as an infusion. However, taking it in tablet form is easier and more convenient for most patients. When acyclovir is given as an infusion, the route through the stomach and via the stomach lining is bypassed.
When taking acyclovir in tablet form, there may therefore be a loss of absorption of the active substance. Especially in patients who have a disease in the gastrointestinal tract, the absorption of the drug may be disturbed. In this case acyclovir is administered as an infusion. Patients who have problems with eating or swallowing can also receive Aciclovir as an infusion.