Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Pharmacologic Class: Viral DNA Polymerase Inhibitor
Chemical Class: Guanosine Nucleoside Analog
Uses for acyclovir
Acyclovir ophthalmic ointment is used to treat acute herpetic keratitis (dendritic ulcers) in patients with herpes simplex (HSV-1 and HSV-2) virus.
Acyclovir is available only with your doctor’s prescription.
Before using acyclovir
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For acyclovir, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to acyclovir or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of acyclovir ophthalmic ointment in children younger than 2 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of acyclovir ophthalmic ointment in the elderly.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Proper use of acyclovir
Use acyclovir only as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
To use the eye ointment:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you use acyclovir.
- Tilt the head back. Press your finger gently on the skin just beneath the lower eyelid and pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to make a pocket.
- Squeeze a ribbon of ointment into the pocket between your lower lid and eyeball. Close your eyes for 1 to 2 minutes. You may wipe the excess ointment away.
- Wipe the tip with a clean tissue and close the tube tightly. Keep the tube tightly closed when you are not using it.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye). Also, keep the container tightly closed. Serious damage to the eye and possible loss of vision may result from using contaminated eye medicines.
The dose of acyclovir will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of acyclovir. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For ophthalmic solution dosage form (eye ointment):
- For acute herpetic keratitis:
- Adults and children 2 years of age and older—Apply a 1 centimeter (cm) ribbon of ointment in the affected eye 5 times per day (about every 3 hours while awake) until the eye heals, and then a 1 cm ribbon 3 times per day for 7 days.
- Children younger than 2 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For acute herpetic keratitis:
If you miss a dose of acyclovir, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions while using acyclovir
It is very important that your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) check your progress at regular visits to make sure acyclovir is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
If eye pain or irritation occurs, or symptoms do not improve within a few days or if they become worse, check with your doctor right away.
Acyclovir side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Eye pain or sting
- painful irritation of the clear front part of the eye
- redness, itching, pain, swelling, or other irritation of the eye
- Redness, swelling, or itching of the eyelid
Incidence not known
- Hives or welts, itching, skin rash
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or genitals
- redness of the skin
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.