Famciclovir is used to treat various types of herpes infections. This includes herpes zoster (shingles), genital herpes, and cold sores. This drug is prescribed to patients with healthy immune systems and patients who have been diagnosed with HIV.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes an outbreak of a painful rash or blisters on the skin. Shingles can appear anywhere on the body but commonly occur as a single stripe on one side of the body. The infection is caused by the same virus - the varicella-zoster virus- that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve had chickenpox as a child, the virus stays dormant in your nervous system even after you’ve recovered. Years later, the virus can reactivate and travel through nerve pathways, causing shingles.
Common symptoms of shingles include:
- Burning pain, itching, or tingling in the affected area of the skin
- A red rash, usually occurring in a single stripe
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open and scab over
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which can reactivate many times in a year. Genital herpes is most commonly spread via sexual contact. Symptoms of genital herpes include pain, itching, and lesions (abnormal skin tissue) in the genital region, or you may not show any symptoms at all. The virus will usually produce sores at the initial point of entry. By touching the sore and then rubbing or scratching another part of your body, including your eyes, you can spread the virus to other parts of your body. If you have been infected by genital herpes, it is important to know that you may be contagious even if you show no symptoms.
Cold sores - also known as oral herpes or herpes labialis - are small fluid-filled blisters that appear on or around the lips. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). This viral infection is spread through skin-to-skin contact (like a kiss) or through saliva.
The fever blisters that result from an HSV-1 infection will often occur in clusters in what’s called a cold sore outbreak. These small lesions will break open and leave a crusted-over scab on and around the lips. The healing time for these breaks is usually about 2-3 weeks.
Once you’ve been infected by the herpes simplex virus, you cannot get rid of it. The virus will stay dormant for weeks or months at a time and will only reappear during an outbreak or flare-up. Herpes infections are contagious even if sores aren’t present.