Is It Safe to Mix Acyclovir and Alcohol?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters
The dizziness associated with acyclovir can be worsened with alcohol.
The dizziness associated with acyclovir can be worsened with alcohol.

Acyclovir is an antiviral drug that is most commonly used to treat herpes infections such as shingles, cold sores, and genital herpes. Antiviral drugs such as this are usually given to help control acute viral outbreaks. It is best not to mix acyclovir and alcohol, because the combination may cause side effects to be more severe.

Antiviral drugs are especially helpful in minimizing the chances of spreading genital herpes to a sexual partner, though they do not guarantee that the herpes won’t spread. These medicines can also help to reduce the pain associated with these conditions. They usually speed the healing process and can be helpful in minimizing the risk of complications that may be associated with some viral outbreaks.

A herpes blister.
A herpes blister.

The main problem that can arise from mixing acyclovir and alcohol is that the medication may cause dizziness as one of its side effects. Combining the drug with alcohol makes the effect worse, resulting in a significant and potentially dangerous level of dizziness. This can cause impaired functioning and may pose a safety issue, especially when driving a car, operating machinery, or running heavy equipment.

Mixing acyclovir and alcohol can lead to dangerous levels of dizziness.
Mixing acyclovir and alcohol can lead to dangerous levels of dizziness.

Acyclovir comes in several different formulations, and can be given orally or applied topically. People who use the drug in ointment or cream form should know that there is very little chance that dizziness will result from topical application. In such an instance, it is likely to be safe to use it with alcohol. Despite this, a number of medical professionals continue to recommend that patients not mix the two, since there is a possibility that the alcohol could affect how well the antiviral medication works, even though it is not a safety issue.

Acyclovir may be used in combination with some topical treatments for HSV-1.
Acyclovir may be used in combination with some topical treatments for HSV-1.

This medication is quite often given as an injection, or as tablets or capsules, and typically, users will get the best possible results by avoiding taking it with alcohol. There is always the chance that dizziness may result from such a combination, even if it has not happened in the past, especially if there can be other contributing factors, such as tiredness, heat, hunger, or stress. If a person on acyclovir were to become dizzy while driving a car or operating machinery, a serious accident could result. It is best not to take risks, both to be sure the medication is able to work without interference and to avoid potentially harmful side effects.

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Discussion Comments

burcidi

@burcinc-- Seriously, don't do it. I did that once and I've never been so dizzy in my life. I was dizzy, nauseated and just really tired for the whole night after I mixed acyclovir and alcohol. I didn't get any sleep and I almost went to the emergency room, it was that bad. It's just not worth it, the side effects are too much.

discographer

@burcinc-- Can't you just wait until your treatment is over?

No one takes antivirals indefinitely, so I don't understand why people don't wait until after their treatment to drink.

I can't tell you that it's okay for you to drink alcohol while you're on acyclovir because it's not. It's risky and it would be better if you didn't.

But if you're adamant and you're going to go ahead and drink despite warnings, then yes, try to have something with low alcohol percentage and don't have more than one or two drinks. It's a good idea to leave apart as much time as possible between the medication and the alcohol. It's also a good idea to eat well, drink lots of water and be in the company of people who can drive you home afterward.

burcinc

I'm taking a very low dose of acyclovir. Can I take alcohol if I consume in small amounts and leave plenty of time between the medication and alcohol?

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    • The dizziness associated with acyclovir can be worsened with alcohol.
      By: Valua Vitaly
      The dizziness associated with acyclovir can be worsened with alcohol.
    • A herpes blister.
      A herpes blister.
    • Mixing acyclovir and alcohol can lead to dangerous levels of dizziness.
      By: orcea david
      Mixing acyclovir and alcohol can lead to dangerous levels of dizziness.
    • Acyclovir may be used in combination with some topical treatments for HSV-1.
      By: Artyom Yefimov
      Acyclovir may be used in combination with some topical treatments for HSV-1.