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Abreva

Generic Name: docosanol topical (doe KOE sah knoll)
Brand Name: Abreva

Medically reviewed on Dec 4, 2017

What is Abreva?

Docosanol is an antiviral medication used to treat cold sore infections caused by the herpes simplex virus. Docosanol shortens the healing time and the length of time symptoms are present.

Abreva is used to treat cold sores on the face and lips.

Docosanol may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Cold sores are contagious before, during and after an outbreak or when blisters are present. Cold sore sufferers should avoid close physical or intimate contact, such as kissing, when having an outbreak.

Do not share Abreva with anyone. Sharing may spread the infection.

Avoid getting this medication in the eyes or mouth.

Who should not use Abreva?

Before using Abreva, tell your doctor if you have any other medical conditions or if you use any other medications.

The FDA has not evaluated the effects of docosanol topical used during pregnancy. Do notuse Abreva without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether docosanol topical passes into breast milk. Do not use docosanol topical without first talking to your doctor if you are breast feeding a baby.

Abreva is not approved for use by children younger than 12 years old.

How should I apply Abreva?

Use docosanol exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Wash your hands before and after applying Abreva.

Abreva should be applied at the very first sign of a cold sore, such as the tingle, redness, bump, or itch.

Abreva is a smooth, white cream that dries clear. It won't sting or burn and it has no medicinal smell or taste.

Remove any cosmetics before applying Abreva. Apply enough this medicine to completely cover the cold sore or fever blister and rub in gently and completely.

Abreva is usually applied five times a day until healed. Stop using this medicine and see your doctor if the cold sore gets worse or the cold sore is not healed with in 10 days.

If at any time the medication is accidentally removed, re-apply it as soon as possible.

Cosmetics, such as lipstick, may be applied over Abreva. However, use a separate applicator, such as cotton swab, to apply cosmetics over an unhealed cold sore to avoid spreading the infection.

Do not share Abreva with anyone. Sharing may spread the infection.

Avoid getting this medication in the eyes or mouth.

Store Abreva at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember, then re-apply the next dose on schedule. It does not matter if the time interval between those doses is reduced.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this medication is not likely to occur. If you suspect an overdose or ingestion of Abreva, call an emergency room or poison control center for advice.

What should I avoid while using docosanol topical?

Cold sores are contagious before, during and after an outbreak or when blisters are present. Cold sore sufferers should avoid close physical or intimate contact, such as kissing, when having an outbreak.

Cosmetics, such as lipstick, may be applied over Abreva. However, use a separate applicator, such as cotton swab, to apply cosmetics over an unhealed cold sore to avoid spreading the infection.

Do not share Abreva with anyone. Sharing may spread infection.

Abreva side effects

No serious side effects are expected with Abreva treatment. If you suspect an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; rash; hives; itching; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face) seek emergency medical attention.

Other less serious side effects are also uncommon. Headache has been reported.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Abreva?

It is not known whether Abreva will interact with other medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all other medicines you are using, especially other topical preparations, and talk to your doctor and pharmacist before using any prescription or over-the-counter medicines during treatment with this medicine.

Further information

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about docosanol written for health professionals that you may read.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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