We prescribe valacyclovir (the generic version of Valtrex), a pill that is the most popular medication for treating or preventing herpes outbreaks. When taken at the start of a herpes outbreak, valacyclovir will decrease the intensity of symptoms, decrease the duration of the outbreak, and reduce the risk of spreading herpes.
Valacyclovir may also be prescribed to be taken daily to prevent outbreaks. Taking valacyclovir daily for oral herpes prevention is an “off label” prescription, meaning the FDA has not approved the medication for this purpose, though it has approved this use for prevention of genital herpes. It is entirely legal for healthcare providers to write off-label prescriptions if they conclude that it is safe and appropriate.
Valacyclovir is quite safe and generally has few side effects, but possible side effects include headaches, dizziness, depression, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, stomach pain, and joint pain.
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