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Abreva Side Effects

Generic name: docosanol topical

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 22, 2023.

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

Applies to docosanol topical: topical cream.

Serious side effects of Abreva

Along with its needed effects, docosanol topical (the active ingredient contained in Abreva) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Other side effects of Abreva

Some side effects of docosanol topical 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:

More common

Less common

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to docosanol topical: topical cream.


This drug is generally well tolerated, however, application site reactions, including burning and stinging as well as headache have been reported.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Application site reaction, burning, stinging[Ref]

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Headache[Ref]


1. Product Information. Abreva (docosanol topical). SmithKline Beecham. 2001;PROD.

2. MedicinesComplete. Pharmaceutical Press. Martindale: the Complete Drug Reference. 2011.

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.