Vital Acyclovir Pointers
The first anti-viral medications were created in the 1960’s, and they were all focused on curing the herpes virus family. Fortunately, through tireless effort and monitoring – Acyclovir – one of the common NCLEX medications – was invented.
Indications for Use
Known with the brand name of Zovirax, Acyclovir is an anti-viral agent that works by inhibiting DNA replication.
Whereas antibiotics are for bacterial infections, anti-virals such as Acyclovir are prescribed for certain viral illnesses. Compared to antibiotics, anti-virals can only inhibit the development of pathogens, and not destroy them.
Acyclovir is primarily prescribed in patients suffering from a Herpes infection. They include:
- Genital herpes
- Herpes zoster/ Herpes simplex
- Herpes simplex encephalitis in babies 6 months and younger
- Mucosal/cutaneous Herpes Simplex (HSV) 1 or 2 in Immunocompromised patients
- HSV infection following transplant
- Disseminated eczema herpeticum
Other indications include Cytomegalovirus infection, infectious mononucleosis and varicella pneumonia.
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As it has been emphasized in nursing school, assessment is the first vital step to the nursing process. Before administering Acyclovir, make sure to evaluate the patient for the presence of allergies, congestive heart failure, seizures, renal disorder and lactation.
Additionally, perform a thorough physical examination of the patient. Check the client’s vital signs, orientation, lung sounds, urinary output, skin color and presence of skin lesions. Lab exams that should be requested are kidney function tests (BUN and Creatinine.)
NCLEX Nursing Interventions
When administering systemic Acyclovir, ensure that the patient is hydrated throughout the course of the therapy. Remember that this drug is nephrotoxic, which means it can have a negative effect on the kidneys.
If administering Acyclovir topically, institute treatment as soon as the first infectious signs and symptoms appear. Additionally, don a finger cot when applying the medication.
Important NCLEX Teaching Points
For patients receiving Acyclovir therapy, instruct them to complete the prescribed dose. Emphasize that they should not go beyond the recommended dose.
Additionally, remind them that it will NOT cure the disease, but it can lessen the severity signs/symptoms. Note that even with the application of the drug during symptom-free periods, prevention of recurrence is not ensured. As such, instruct the patient to wear a rubber glove/finger cot upon topical application to prevent transmission or self-inoculation.
Remember to teach the patient about the expected side effects of the drug (systemic), which include diarrhea, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea.
Side effects for topical Acyclovir, on the other hand, are stinging, burning, itching and rashes. If these signs become more pronounced, inform the nurse/doctor right away.
Apart from the severity of the following signs, the onset of skin rashes, urination difficulty and recurrence also warrant the notification of healthcare personnel right away.
Those receiving Acyclovir therapy (both systemic and topical) should also be reminded to abstain from sexual intercourse especially if lesions are visibly present.
Anti-virals are commonly used in hospital and home settings, so it is best if you know about this medication. Master this drug – and many other therapeutic agents – with the practice NCLEX questions at nclexpreceptor.com.