Korean J Dermatol.  2014 Oct;52(10):720-727. 10.0000/kjd.2014.52.10.720.

Comparison between Famciclovir and Valacyclovir for the Treatment of Herpes Zoster in Adults

  • 1Department of Dermatology, Maryknoll Medical Center, Busan, Korea. wowhbh@hanmail.net
  • 2Department of Dermatology, Busan Baik Hospital, College of Medicine, Inje University, Busan, Korea.


Famciclovir and valacyclovir are antiviral agents commonly used to treat herpes zoster. These medications not only reduce the time to complete cessation of zoster-associated pain, but also aid in the healing of the herpes zoster skin lesions. However, only few studies have compared these antiviral agents.
We conducted a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the extent of pain relief and wound healing, and the rate of postherpetic neuralgia associated with these drugs during 4 weeks of treatment.
The study included 69 immunocompetent adult inpatients diagnosed with herpes zoster randomly divided into 2 groups based on the antiviral agent administered. Patient age, date of visit from rash onset, and rash severity at baseline were recorded. Famciclovir or valacyclovir were administered orally for 7 days. Patients reported pain levels through a visual analog scale (VAS) score, and pain durations were assessed on days 1, 3, and 7, and at weeks 2, 3, and 4. Crust formation and reepithelialization times of skin lesions were also recorded.
VAS scores, pain durations, ratios of patients undergoing postherpetic neuralgia, and skin lesion healing rates did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. However, rash severity independently correlated with the extent of pain experienced.
Famciclovir and valacyclovir are comparable to each other in resolving zoster-associated pain, postherpetic neuralgia, and zoster wound healing. Early antiviral treatment before expansion of the skin lesion would be helpful for rapid relief of herpes zoster pain.


Famciclovir; Herpes zoster; Postherpetic neuralgia; Valacyclovir
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