Antiviral drugs

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Discovery of drugs that inhibit viral DNA polymerase and inhibit their proliferation in vivo means that effective treatment for herpes simplex and zoster is now possible. They are effective at the early stages of infection and should be started as soon as symptoms appear. Aciclovir (Zovirax, GSK) is available as a cream.

Aciclovir is effective against both herpes simplex and zoster. The standard dose is 200 mg five times daily for five days. In varicella infections and herpes zoster 800 mg is given five times daily for seven days. It can also be given by intravenous infusion, and should be applied as soon as symptoms appear. In addition, it can be used for prophylaxis, particularly in the immunocompromised patients and atopics who are liable to fulminating infection.

Famciclovir and valaciclovir are similar and are recommended for treating herpes zoster.

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