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Valtrex contains the active ingredient valacyclovir and is a prescription medicine used to treat the herpes infections that cause cold sores (fever blisters) and genital herpes. Valtrex helps to make the symptoms of herpes infections less severe, less long lasting, and it can even prevent outbreaks from happening in the first place.


Valtrex is an antiviral medication that interferes with the growth of herpes viruses. It slows the spread of the virus through your body, helping your immune system to fight and clear it from infected cells. It can’t cure you of herpes entirely, as once you’ve been infected, herpes is with you forever. But it can prevent outbreaks from recurring and also help to clear up outbreaks of blisters faster, make them less itchy and painful.


Valtrex is taken orally as a pill with water. How often you take it will depend on your infection and circumstances. Our doctors will determine the correct dosage for you, and you should always take the medicine as they direct.

What does Valtrex do?

Valtrex is an antiviral medication containing the active ingredient valaciclovir. It works by stopping the herpes simplex virus from multiplying and spreading to other cells in your body. This gives your natural immune system the chance to control the infection. Valtrex can be taken at the first sign of an outbreak, but if you experience outbreaks regularly a daily suppressive treatment may be more suitable for you.

Who can use Valtrex?

Valtrex can be taken by anyone over the age of 12. Check with us before taking Valtrex if you are over 65, have kidney or liver problems, or have a weak immune system. Do not take Valtrex if you’re allergic to valaciclovir or acyclovir, or any of the other ingredients listed in the leaflet enclosed with the medication.

How to use Valtrex?

Valtrex is taken orally as a pill with water. How often you take it will depend on your infection and circumstances. Our doctors will determine the correct dosage for you, and you should always take the medicine as they direct.

It can be taken as soon as the first symptoms of genital herpes or cold sores are felt, however you should seek advice from a doctor of healthcare professional in this instance.

When to take Valtrex for genital herpes and cold sores?

FROM MARS provides Valtrex or valaciclovir as a daily preventative treatment for patients who have already been diagnosed with herpes, to help lessen the frequency of outbreaks and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. The tablets should be taken as prescribed every day. It is important that you complete the course that is prescribed for you, even if it seems that the infection has cleared up.

It can be also taken as soon as the earliest symptoms are noticed during a persons first outbreak, however you will need to speak to a doctor or healthcare professional in this instance.

How fast does Valtrex work?

It depends on how severe your outbreak is, how quickly you take the medication after you notice the first symptoms, and the dose taken, but Valtrex typically works quickly and provides relief from symptoms within two to three days.

Can I still have sex during my Valtrex treament?

Don’t have sex if you have cold sores or blisters on your genitals or buttocks and the surrounding areas, or if you feel any other symptoms of an outbreak, such as the tingling sensation before the blisters form. The herpes viruses are highly contagious, and infections can be passed to others easily, even if you wear a condom. You can get back to sex after your treatment has finished and your outbreak has cleared up.

How long can you take Valtrex?

Valtrex can be taken once daily for long term preventative therapy of recurrent genital herpes.

Does Valtrex have any side effects?

Valtrex is generally a safe and well-tolerated medication, however, like all medications, there can be side effects. The most common side effects include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, a skin rash or sunburn after exposure to sunlight. Valtrex can also have an impact on your kidneys, so it is important to stay hydrated with water whilst taking this medication. For more information on side effects, please refer to the patient information leaflet.

How effective is Valtrex?

Research has shown that the active substance in Valtrex, called valaciclovir, is better absorbed by your body when taken orally than medications that contain acyclovir. The research shows that Valtrex helps to clear up outbreaks of cold sores and genital herpes faster than if no medication is taken, that it can prevent blisters from forming, and that it can help provide relief from the pain and discomfort caused by the blisters.

What is the difference between Valtrex and valacyclovir?

Valacyclovir is the name of the drug itself, and Valtrex is a brand name under which the drug is often sold. If you see medication called Valtrex or valacyclovir, they’re medically the same.

Will Valtrex cure herpes?

Unfortunately, no. There is currently no cure for herpes simplex infections. Once the virus infects you it takes up residence in the nerve cells of your skin. The virus goes dormant there, effectively hiding from your immune system and avoiding any medication. The virus reactivates every now and then causing a new outbreak of blisters. Medications like Valtrex help to manage and shorten these outbreaks.

Valtrex also won’t completely stop the chances of you passing the virus onto other people. You should not let infected areas come into contact with other people, so you should avoid sex during an outbreak and remember to wash your hands regularly.

Where can I find more information on Valtrex and herpes?

To find out more about the HSV 1 or HSV 2, please visit our cold sores or genital herpes pages. You’ll also find lots of advice and information about the conditions and our treatments on our blog.



Valtrex is a brand name medication discovered and marketed by GlaxoSmithKline, and valacyclovir is the active ingredient in Valtrex that treats cold sores.

Side Effects

Is valtrex safe?

Valtrex is a safe medication for most people over the age of 12 to use. There have been extensive clinical trials and it’s been used for over twenty years to fight herpes. All medications can have side effects though, and Valtrex isn’t suitable for everyone. If you experience any side affects you should stop taking the medication. We recommend reading the link below to understand all of the potential benefits and risks of the medication.

Open medical information
Info Leaflets

Before taking valtrex or any medication, it is important to read the Patient Information Leaflet.

Open Patient Information Leaflet

Other available
treatments for genital herpes



(Generic version of Valtrex)

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