Generic name: docosanol (doe-KOE-sa-nol)
Drug class: Topical anti-infectives
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 20, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antiviral
Uses for docosanol
Docosanol belongs to the family of medicines called antivirals. Antivirals are used to treat infections caused by viruses. Usually they work for only one kind or group of virus infections.
Topical docosanol is used to treat the symptoms of herpes simplex virus infections around the mouth. Although topical docosanol will not cure herpes simplex, it may help relieve the pain and discomfort and may help the sores (if any) heal faster.
Docosanol is available over the counter.
Before using docosanol
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For docosanol, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to docosanol or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Although there is no specific information comparing use of docosanol in children with use in other age groups , docosanol is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of docosanol in the elderly with use in other age groups.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Proper use of docosanol
Do not use docosanol in or around the eyes or on the genitalia .
Docosanol is best used as soon as possible after the signs and symptoms of herpes infection (for example, pain, burning, or blisters) begin to appear.
Apply the medication to the sores (blisters); rub in gently and completely.
To help clear up your herpes infection, continue using docosanol for the full time of treatment. Do not miss any doses. However, do not use docosanol more often or for a longer time than your health care professional or the OTC label indicates.
The dose of docosanol will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of docosanol. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For topical dosage form (cream):
- Adults and adolescents:
- Apply to the affected area(s), five times a day until sore is healed.
- Rub in gently and completely
- Children under 12 years of age
- Use and dosage must be determined by your doctor.
- Adults and adolescents:
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Docosanol side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Surface problems including:
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about docosanol topical
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 419 Reviews
- Drug class: topical anti-infectives
- Other brands
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.