What is docosanol topical?

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.

Docosanol topical 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.


Before using docosanol topical, 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 docosanol topical 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.

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

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 docosanol topical. 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 docosanol topical with anyone. Sharing may spread infection.

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

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.

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Side effects

No serious side effects are expected with docosanol topical 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.

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It is not known whether docosanol topical 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 docosanol topical.

Other Names

Abreva and docosanol topical

Available Strengths & Dosages

Route Form Strength
topical cream 10%

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