docosanol - topical, Abreva
GENERIC NAME: DOCOSANOL - TOPICAL (doe-COE-sah-noll)
BRAND NAME(S): Abreva
USES: Docosanol is used to treat "cold sores/fever blisters" (herpes labialis). It can speed up healing of the sores and decrease symptoms (such as tingling, pain, burning, itching). It works by blocking the virus that causes the cold sores (herpes simplex) from entering the healthy skin cells and growing in number. This medication does not cure herpes and does not prevent passing the infection to someone else. It does not prevent a future occurrence.Do not use this medication to treat canker sores (sores found commonly in the mouth), shingles, or genital herpes.
HOW TO USE: Follow all directions on the product package, or use as directed by your doctor. Use this medication at the first signs of a cold sore (such as tingling, burning, redness, or a bump). Wash and dry your hands before applying the medication. Clean and dry the affected areas. Apply a thin layer of medication to completely cover the area of the cold sore or the area of tingling/itching/redness/swelling and rub in gently, usually 5 times a day every 3-4 hours, or as directed by your doctor. Wash your hands with soap and water after applying. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.Apply to skin only. Do not apply this medication in or near the eyes since this medication can irritate the eyes. If you do get medication in your eyes, flush with plenty of water. Do not apply inside the mouth or nose.Remove any cosmetics from the affected area before applying. You may apply cosmetics after applying but use a separate applicator (such as a disposable cotton swab) on infected areas to prevent spreading the infection. If you accidentally wipe off the medication, reapply as soon as possible.Dosage is based on your medical condition, type of infection, and response to treatment. Do not use this drug more often or for longer than directed.Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. This medication works best when the amount of drug absorbed by the skin stays at a constant level. Therefore, use this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, use it at the same times each day.Cold sores (herpes) can spread easily. Docosanol does not prevent the spread of herpes. Avoid close physical contact with others (such as kissing) during an outbreak until the cold sores have completely healed. Also, try not to touch the cold sore, and wash your hands if you do touch the cold sore.Stop using this medication and tell your doctor if your cold sores worsen or persist for more than 10 days.
Quick GuideCosmetic Dentistry Before and After Photos
SIDE EFFECTS: Redness or swelling may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.In the US -Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
PRECAUTIONS: Before using docosanol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: If you are using this product under your doctor's direction, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first.Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.
OVERDOSE: This medicine may be harmful if swallowed. If swallowing or overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
NOTES: Do not share this medication with others. Doing so may spread the infection.Cold sore outbreaks can be caused by many factors such as stress, hormonal changes (such as pregnancy, menstrual period), injury/surgery on the mouth (such as dental work), tiredness, sunlight, cold weather, or fever/cold/flu.
MISSED DOSE: If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature between 68-77 degrees F (20-25 degrees C). Protect from freezing. If you have any questions about storage, ask your pharmacist. Keep all drug products away from children and pets.Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
Quick GuideCosmetic Dentistry Before and After Photos
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Picture of Herpes Blister (Cold Sore)
Cold sores (fever blisters) are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), passed on through contact with infected skin or body...
Picture of Cold Sores Treatment
You can't cure HSV or a cold sore, but you can alleviate the pain it causes by avoiding spicy or acidic foods, applying ice, and...
Picture of Cold Sore and Canker Sore
Cold sores and canker sores aren't the same. See a picture of Cold Sore and Canker Sore and learn more about the health topic....
Picture of Cold Sore Between Nose and Mouth
Can a cold sore appear somewhere other than your lip? They are not as common, but cold sores can appear anywhere on the face,...
Picture of Cold Sores (Fever Blisters)
Cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. See a picture of Cold...
Related Disease Conditions
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache,...
Cold Sores (Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections)
Herpes simplex infections are common and when they appear around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores"...
Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STD)
Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are transmitted during any type of sexual exposure, including...
Pimple vs. Cold Sore
Pimples are areas of skin inflammation with pus in the center. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters. Pimples are caused by...
Are Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) Contagious?
About 20% of cases of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and approximately 80% of cold sores are...
Treatment & Diagnosis
Prevention & Wellness
Daily Health News
Oral Health Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top docosanol-topical Related ArticlesComplete List
Are Cold Sores ContagiousAbout 20% of cases of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and approximately 80% of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores are transmitted by sharing utensils and razors, kissing, and oral sex. There is no cure for cold sores.
Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) PictureCold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. See a picture of Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) and learn more about the health topic.
Herpes Simplex Infections (Non-Genital)Herpes simplex infections are common and when they appear around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores" and "fever blisters." Canker sores are different than cold sores. Air droplets can spread the virus, as can direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. Cold sore treatment include over-the-counter medication, as well as prescription medications.
Pimple vs Cold SorePimples are areas of skin inflammation with pus in the center. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters. Pimples are caused by bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. Cold sores are caused by infection with herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Benzoyl peroxide and sometimes antibiotics treat acne. Antiviral medications accelerate the healing process of oral herpes.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs In Women)
Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are transmitted during any type of sexual exposure, including intercourse (vaginal or anal), oral sex, and the sharing of sexual devices, such as vibrators. Women can contract all of the STDs, but may have no symptoms, or have different symptoms than men do. Common STDs in women are:
- Zika virus
- Genital herpes
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Pubic lice
- Genital warts
Treatment for STDs depends upon the type.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. Treatment focuses on pain management and shortening the duration of the illness with antiviral medications.