Acyclovir And Alcohol

While you are taking certain prescription or non-prescription medications, you should be aware of the potential risks, side effects, and interactions with other medications and alcohol. Many medications interact with alcohol and are considered unsafe to combine with alcohol. Usually, it is recommended to avoid mixing antiviral drugs (E.g. Acyclovir, Valacyclovir (Valtrex), or Famciclovir) with alcohol. Even though there are no specific warnings mentioned on these products, alcohol may interfere with the effectiveness of certain drugs.

Acyclovir Highlights

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  • Acyclovir is an antiviral medication prescribed to treat viral infections that eases pain and lessens the risk of complications due to herpes infections.
  • Alcohol may interact with Acyclovir intensifying the adverse effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Alcohol can raise Acyclovir concentration in the blood, exacerbating the potential side effects of this drug.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption does not interfere with Acyclovir but it’s better to stay safe and avoid driving or operating machinery.

What You Should Know About Acyclovir (Antiviral Drug)?

The antiviral drug Acyclovir is sold under different brand names such as Zovirax. Doctors prescribe Acyclovir to treat herpes infections in their several manifestations. It is prescribed to control and manage the symptoms of herpes infections caused by herpes viruses. Acyclovir does not cure the herpes infection, however, it can ease symptoms and promote healing while your immune system combats the virus.

Acyclovir works against a viral infection by suppressing the multiplication of viral DNA averting the virus from spreading. In the case of genital herpes infection, Acyclovir also reduces the risk of transmitting genital herpes infection however it does not prevent the transmission of infection.

When used as directed by your health care provider, Acyclovir effectively boosts the healing process, minimizes the risk of complications associated with herpes outbreaks, and reduces the risk of transmission.

Additionally, Acyclovir is also prescribed to treat chicken pox and shingles. Some evidence suggests that Acyclovir is an effective treatment for Bell’s palsy and facial nerve paralysis linked to HSV infection.

Acyclovir Treatment For Herpes Infections (Genital Herpes, Cold Sores And Shingles)

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Herpes simplex virus is of two types HSV 1 and HSV 2. Herpes virus causes ordinary cold sores, genital herpes (sexually transmitted condition), and the painful condition called shingles. Herpes simplex virus transmits through contact with skin and bodily fluids (semen, vaginal secretion, or saliva).

Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the most common and the sufferers may experience cold sore outbreaks or fever blisters. Once an individual is exposed to the herpes virus, it stays dormant in the body for a lifetime even after the symptoms disappear after taking medication. It may get active causing an outbreak.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 is less common and is associated with genital herpes. However, herpes simplex 1 can also cause genital lesions when acquired via oral sex. Usually, herpes simplex lesions go away within two to four weeks but many patients need treatment to speed up the recovery process or suppress the herpes outbreaks to avoid the discomfort.

Acyclovir And Alcohol Warnings

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Usually, alcohol does not interfere with the way antiviral medications work. Still, it is recommended not to mix alcohol and Acyclovir to avoid mishaps such as dizziness and sleepiness. A high blood alcohol concentration can affect Acyclovir concentrations amplifying the risk of side effects.

When patients are prescribed Acyclovir, generally advised to avoid alcohol while taking this drug. The most common problem due to mixing alcohol and Acyclovir is it intensifies the drowsiness and dizziness that are the common side effects of this drug. Combining alcohol and Acyclovir may result in an unsafe level of dizziness that can pose serious safety threats if the patient drives or work with heavy machinery etc.

Another concern associated with combining alcohol with Acyclovir is meddling with how your body, metabolizes the medicine. Alcohol can increase the concentration of Acyclovir in the body worsening the side effects. Patients who drink alcohol when under Acyclovir treatment are more likely to have side effects such as changes in vision or fainting.

Generally, it may lead to severe side effects in older adults and patients with compromised immune systems. Certain factors such as heat, stress, hunger, and tiredness tend to worsen the common side effects of this drug and alcohol can intensify them. Usually, a  glass of wine or a moderate amount of alcohol is not problematic. However, the health risks of drinking too much alcohol while taking Acyclovir are considerable.

How Much Alcohol Is Ok With Antiviral Drugs?


According to medical professionals moderate consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages is not problematic that is two drinks a day. As per United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), one drink should contain 14 grams/ 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Particularly, 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of gin, vodka, whiskey, and rum.

Watching your drinking limits while taking antiviral drugs can eliminate the risk of associated drug interactions and adverse effects. If you are drinking not more than two drinks a day, you are free of risk. However, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery when you are drunk.


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Valtrex or Valacyclovir is another antiviral that is considered relatively safe to combine with a moderate amount of alcohol. However, it’s better to consult your doctor or healthcare provider while you have been prescribed Valacyclovir or other antiviral drugs.

A significant factor you need to consider before mixing alcohol with Valtrex is that it may result in worsening the side effects of the drug. Valtrex may cause some common side effects in some people such as vomiting and nausea. Drinking alcohol while taking Valtrex may make you more likely to experience these side effects.

Valtrex may also cause dizziness in some patients and alcohol use while taking this drug can make this side effect even more intense. That is why you should avoid drinking alcohol or drink in moderation until you complete the prescribed antiviral course.

Alcohol During Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common infection that can be very uncomfortable as well as embarrassing. Fortunately, Acyclovir and certain other antiviral drugs can treat the infection but can you drink alcohol while taking Acyclovir tablets?

Alcohol does not interfere with the way the antiviral drugs work against genital herpes however alcohol can impact your immune system negatively making it tougher to clear up the infection speedily. Alcohol abuse or having too much consumption of alcohol over some time an outbreak may occur more readily. Alcohol reduces your body’s ability to combat infections. Refraining from drinking during Acyclovir treatment also lessens the risk of having side effects of the drug.

Alcohol Consumption During Shingles (herpes zoster)

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Shingles appear as a cluster of lesions or blisters and pain caused by infection can be unbearable.  immediate shingles treatment usually include antiviral drugs to reduce pain and encourage healing. If your doctor has prescribed Valtrex or Acyclovir to treat shingles, it is a good idea to avoid consuming alcohol. Regular alcohol consumption while you are suffering an infection such as shingles can compromise your immune system and may diminish the effectiveness of medications you are taking.

When suffering from any infection, ideally your body’s immune system should be functioning at its peak efficiency to fight the viral infections effectively however with alcohol it may not be possible. That is the reason, you should avoid alcohol or consume it in a moderate amount.

Closing Words

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications are associated with common side effects and can potentially interact with other drugs or substances. Mixing alcohol with certain medications or drug abuse while you are under certain drugs can significantly interfere with the efficiency of the drug or increase the risk of severe side effects.

Although there are no strict guidelines or alcohol warnings particularly mentioned in antiviral drug product labels such as Acyclovir, usually it is advised to avoid mixing alcohol with medications. Alcohol can reduce the healing and ability of the immune system to combat infections. For the best advice talk to your doctor and discuss treatment.