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Abreva Side Effects

Generic Name: docosanol topical

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of docosanol topical. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Abreva.

For the Consumer

Applies to docosanol topical: topical cream

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by docosanol topical (the active ingredient contained in Abreva). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Severity: Minor

Some of the side effects that can occur with docosanol topical may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common:
  • Headache
Less common:
  • Surface problems including:
  • acne
  • burning
  • dryness
  • itching
  • rash
  • redness
  • soreness
  • swelling

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to docosanol topical: topical cream


Dermatologic side effects have included burning or stinging following application.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Abreva (docosanol topical)" SmithKline Beecham, Philadelphia, PA.

2. Habbema L, De Boulle K, Roders GA, Katz DH "n-Docosanol 10% cream in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." Acta Derm Venereol 76 (1996): 479-81

Not all side effects for Abreva may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

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