Chicken Pox / Shingles

Doses are oral and for adults unless otherwise stated. Visit the Health Products Regulatory Board website or the printed Irish Medicines Formulary for drug SPCs, dosage, contraindications, interactions, or IMF/BNF/BNFC/MIMS. See guidance on dosing in children for quick reference dosage/weight guide.

Letters indicate strength of evidence range from A+ (systematic review) to D (informal opinion). Statins can interact with some antibiotics and increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. Amiodarone and drugs which prolong the QT interval can interact with many antibiotics. Many antibiotics increase the risk of bleeding with anticoagulants. Please refer to our Drug Interactions Table for further information.

Comments from Expert Advisory Committee

  • If pregnant/immunocompromised seek advice. Dosing in the immunocompromised requires an extended course of antivirals.
  • Chicken pox: In immunocompetent, value of antivirals minimal unless severe pain, or adult, or on steroids, or secondary household case AND treatment started within 24h of onset of rash.A-
  • Shingles: Always treat if active ophthalmic infection, Ramsey Hunt or eczema.
  • Non-ophthalmic shingles: Treat if >50 yrs and within 72h of onset of rash, as post-herpetic neuralgia rare in <50 yrs but occurs in 20% >50 yrsA+


Treatment Dose TX Duration
First line aciclovir 800mg 5x/day 7 days
Second line if a compliance problem valaciclovir 1g TDS 7 days
OR famciclovir 500mg TDS 7 days

We recommend patients use the website developed by HSE/ICGP/IPU partnership for tips on how to get better from common infections without using antibiotics, what you can do for yourself or a loved one and when to seek help.

The HSE Health A-Z website provides patient information on many hundreds of conditions and treatments.

Click on the links below to view information on Varicella Zoster / Chicken Pox & Herpes Zoster / Shingles

Further information is available to view from the HPSC website

Reviewed June 2016