Does Valtrex Cause Hair Loss?

Does Valtrex (Valacyclovir) Cause Hair Loss

Valtrex is an antiviral medication commonly used to treat herpes infections, shingles, and cold sores.

While it is effective in treating these conditions, there have been concerns about its potential side effects, one of which is hair loss.

Hair loss can be a distressing experience for anyone, regardless of the cause.

So if you are taking Valtrex and noticing hair loss, you may be wondering if the medication is to blame.

In this article, we will delve into the topic: Does Valtrex (Valacyclovir) Cause Hair Loss?

What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss, also known as alopecia, is a condition where hair follicles stop producing new hairs or existing hairs fall out at an increased rate.

It can affect the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other parts of the body.

There are many different types of hair loss with various causes, including genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, and stress.

Common causes of hair loss

  • Genetics: The primary reason behind hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition known as male or female pattern baldness. This gradual hair loss affects men and women alike.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal imbalances, such as those that occur during pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or thyroid disorders, can cause temporary hair loss.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions like alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder), scalp infections, and skin disorders can lead to hair loss.
  • Medications: Some medications used to treat health conditions like cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, and high blood pressure have been linked to hair loss as a side effect.
  • Stress: Extreme physical or emotional stress can shock the hair follicles and cause temporary hair loss.

How does hair growth work?

To understand how medications like Valtrex can potentially affect hair growth, it’s essential to know the basics of how hair grows.

The average scalp contains about 100,000 hair follicles, each producing a single strand of hair.

The three phases of the hair growth cycle are:

  1. Anagen: This is the active phase where new hairs grow from the follicles. Hair grows about 1 cm every 28 days in this phase, which can last for several years.
  2. Catagen: During this transitional phase, hair growth slows down, and the hair follicles shrink. This phase lasts for about two weeks.
  3. Telogen: The final resting phase where the hair stops growing and eventually falls out. In a healthy individual, about 10-15% of hair follicles are in this phase at any given time, and new hairs replace the ones that fall out.

What is Valtrex (Valacyclovir)?

Valtrex is a brand name for the drug valacyclovir, an antiviral medication used to treat herpes infections.

It works by stopping the spread of the virus and reducing symptoms like pain, itching, and healing time for sores.

Valtrex can also be used as a preventive treatment for recurrent outbreaks.

How does Valtrex work?

Valtrex is an antiviral prodrug that gets converted into its active form, acyclovir, inside the body.

Acyclovir works by blocking viral DNA replication, thereby preventing the virus from multiplying and causing infection.

As a result, the body’s immune system can better fight off the virus and reduce symptoms.

Common uses of Valtrex

Valtrex is primarily used to treat the following conditions:

  • Genital herpes
  • Cold sores
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)

Can Valtrex Lead to Hair Loss?

Does Valtrex Cause Hair Loss

The short answer is, it’s unlikely.

According to the prescribing information for Valtrex, hair loss (alopecia) is not listed as a common or rare side effect.

The drug has been extensively studied in clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance, and hair loss has not been reported as a significant adverse event.

There have been isolated case reports of patients experiencing hair loss while taking Valtrex, but it’s unclear if the medication was the cause.

In most of these cases, other potential factors like stress, hormonal imbalances, and medical conditions were present, making it difficult to determine if Valtrex was solely responsible for the hair loss.

Expert Insights

  1. In a study published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS, researchers evaluated the safety and efficacy of Valtrex in treating genital herpes infections.

They found that hair loss was not reported as an adverse event during the study.

  1. Similarly, in a review article on the use of antiviral drugs for HSV-2 infection, hair loss was not listed as a side effect of Valtrex.

While these studies do not definitively rule out the possibility of hair loss with Valtrex, they provide evidence that it is not a common or significant concern.

Also Read: Does Valtrex Cause Weight Gain?

Factors to Consider

While it’s unlikely that Valtrex directly causes hair loss, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Underlying health conditions: As mentioned earlier, certain medical conditions and hormonal imbalances can cause hair loss. If you have an underlying condition that is not well-managed, it could potentially contribute to hair loss.
  • Stress levels: Stress has been linked to hair loss, so managing stress levels is essential. If you are experiencing high levels of stress while taking Valtrex, it’s possible that your hair loss could be stress-related rather than medication-induced.
  • Other medications: If you are taking other medications along with Valtrex, they may have a side effect of hair loss. It’s essential to discuss all your medications with your healthcare provider to identify any potential interactions or adverse effects.

Tips for Maintaining Hair Health While Using Valtrex

Stress Management: Engage in stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, or moderate exercise to lower the risk of stress-related hair loss.

Nutritional Support: Ensure a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals that support hair growth, like vitamin E, iron, and zinc.

Review Other Medications: Discuss all current medications with your healthcare provider to identify any that could potentially contribute to hair loss.

Hair Care Regimen: Use gentle hair care products and avoid harsh treatments that may weaken hair or damage follicles.

Monitoring Health Conditions: Keep underlying health conditions well-managed under the guidance of your healthcare provider.

Be Patient: Understand that if hair loss does occur, it may take time for hair to regrow once the contributing factors are addressed.

Additional Side Effects of Valtrex

While Valtrex is generally well-tolerated by the majority of patients, some may experience side effects other than hair loss. The side effects most frequently reported are:

  • Nausea: A feeling of sickness in the stomach that may lead to vomiting.
  • Headache: Persistent pain in the head, which can vary in intensity.
  • Dizziness: A sensation of spinning or losing one’s balance, which can affect daily activities.
  • Abdominal Pain: Discomfort or pain located in the stomach area.
  • Fatigue: A feeling of tiredness or exhaustion that is not relieved by rest.

These side effects are typically mild and often resolve with continued use of the medication.

Remember, not everyone will experience common side effects. The benefits of Valtrex in treating viral infections often outweigh the potential risks of side effects.

Also Read: 5 Pros and Cons of Taking Valtrex Daily

Alternatives to Valtrex

If you are concerned about the potential for hair loss with Valtrex, there are alternative medications available for treating herpes infections. These include:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)

These drugs work similarly to Valtrex and can also effectively treat herpes infections.

Also Read: Can Valtrex (Valacyclovir) Cause a Yeast Infection:

Final Thoughts

While hair loss is not a common side effect of Valtrex, it’s essential to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.

They can help evaluate potential contributing factors and recommend strategies for managing hair health while taking Valtrex.

Remember, the benefits of this medication in treating herpes infections often outweigh the potential risks of side effects.

Key Takeaways

  • Valtrex is primarily used to treat genital herpes, cold sores, and shingles.
  • Hair loss is not listed as a common or rare side effect of Valtrex.
  • Other factors like stress levels, underlying conditions, and other medications should be considered when evaluating hair loss while taking Valtrex.
  • Managing stress levels, nutritional support, reviewing other medications, and monitoring underlying health conditions can help maintain hair health while on Valtrex.
  • Other side effects of Valtrex may include nausea, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
  • Alternative medications to treat herpes infections include acyclovir and famciclovir.


Does Valtrex cause hair loss in everyone who takes it?

No, hair loss is not a common or rare side effect of Valtrex.

Other factors like stress levels, underlying conditions, and other medications should be considered when evaluating hair loss while taking Valtrex.

What should I do if I notice hair loss while taking Valtrex?

Consult your healthcare provider. They can help evaluate potential contributing factors and recommend strategies for managing hair health while taking Valtrex.

It’s also essential to keep underlying health conditions well-managed and maintain a healthy diet to support hair growth.

What occurs when you discontinue Valtrex?

When you stop taking Valtrex, the medication will gradually clear from your system.

If you’re taking the drug for an active herpes outbreak, you should ideally complete the full course as prescribed to ensure the best outcome.

Stopping Valtrex abruptly could potentially cause the infection to return or worsen.

If you’re taking it as a suppressive therapy for herpes, stopping the medication may increase the likelihood of future outbreaks.

Can Herpes Lead to Hair Thinning?

While herpes doesn’t directly cause hair thinning, stress and inflammation from an outbreak could lead to temporary thinning.

The immune response prioritizes fighting the virus over non-essential functions like hair growth.

Psychological stress from herpes may also worsen thinning in some cases, though it’s not a widely recognized symptom.

Can Valtrex cause hair thinning?

Hair thinning is not a known side effect of Valtrex.

If you’re experiencing hair loss while taking Valtrex, it’s essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider to determine potential contributing factors and evaluate alternative treatment options.

Useful Resources


The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is important to seek professional medical advice and not disregard it or delay seeking it based on the information read here. While we strive to provide accurate and reliable information, we cannot guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is your responsibility and carries inherent risks. We are not liable for any losses or damages resulting from the use of our content.


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