by Mark Alexander, Herpes Simplex Treatment editor
Abreva is an over the counter cold sore remedy which is approved by the FDA. Its patented active ingredient is called Docanosol which is useful for shortening the length of time it takes to heal a cold sore and has been clinically established. I find it rather interesting that Docanosol is found in many of the foods we eat. One source called these foods unavoidable in our diets and listed a couple food sources such as chocolate and peanuts-unavoidable?! It is also found in certain whole vegetables and fruits.
How Does It Work?
So just how does Abreva work? It works by altering the covering which surrounds healthy skin cells. The adapted cell membrane performs as a barrier to the cold sore virus which in turn blocks the virus from entering the cell to start the process of infection. Besides docanosol, Abreva also contains benzyl alcohol. Although this is sometimes stated as being an inactive ingredient, it is actually a commonly used preservative which allows for anesthetic and anti-itching functions.
If you ask most medical professionals they will agree that Abreva is not an antiviral, although while searching online you may find an inaccuracy here and there claiming that it is. Denavir and Zovirax are actually the only two antivirals used in treating herpes and are categorized as such because they work in cells which are virus-infected. Abreva only works in healthy cells protecting viruses from entering and beginning the infection process.
Just a few pros in Abreva’s favor are that it applies itself to your cold sores in a smooth, white cream that dries clearly. Walking around with noticeable white marks on your lips would not be very attractive so this is a plus. It does not burn or sting for most people and has no smell or taste of medicine. You can even feel free to wear lipstick over the Abreva although be sure to use a separate applicator to prevent further spreading of infection. The main con is that it needs to be applied five times per day which can be difficult to remember. If your cold sore worsens or isn’t healed in ten days be sure to consult with your doctor, as well as if any allergic reactions occur that are troubling, although these should rarely occur if at all.
No side effects of a serious nature have been noted with use of Abreva. However if you do notice any allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, hives, rash or swelling in your lips or tongue-be sure to seek emergency treatment at once. Any type of medication has the potential for side effects so be aware, read the instructions/warnings thoroughly but don’t be overly alarmed. When used properly the results you should see will be more rapid healing of your cold sores than if you had not used it.
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