What is Abreva® cream (docosanol) used for?

Abreva® cream is commonly used for treating cold sores or fever blisters on the face or lips and shortening the duration of symptoms (e.g., tingling, pain, itching, burning).

How should I take Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Use Abreva® cream as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instruction.

Abreva® cream is for external use only. Apply only to affected areas. Do not get Abreva® cream in your eyes. If you get Abreva® cream in your eyes, rinse immediately with cool tap water.

Wash your hands before and after applying Abreva® cream. Apply to affected area on face or lips at the first sign of a cold sore or fever blister (e.g., bump, itch, tingle, redness). Early treatment ensures the best results. Rub the medicine in gently but completely.

Use Abreva® cream 5 times a day until healed unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

For best results, remove any cosmetics prior to applying Abreva® cream.

You may apply cosmetics (e.g., lipstick) over Abreva® cream. Use a separate applicator, such as a cotton swab, to apply cosmetics over the unhealed sore to avoid spreading the infection.

How do I store Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Abreva® cream is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store Abreva® cream in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of Abreva® cream that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush Abreva® cream down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of Abreva® cream or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

Do not share this product with anyone. This may spread infection.

Stop using Abreva® cream and contact your doctor if your cold sore gets worse or is not healed within 10 days.

Abreva® cream is not recommended for use in children younger than 12 years of age without first checking with your doctor. Safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been confirmed.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using Abreva® cream during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking Abreva® cream.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue) may occur when using this drug.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Abreva® cream may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Abreva® cream may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with Abreva® cream (docosanol)?

Abreva® cream may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using Abreva® cream (docosanol).

What is the dose of Abreva® cream (docosanol) for an adult?

Use Abreva® cream 5 times a day until healed unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

What is the dose of Abreva® cream (docosanol) for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is Abreva® cream (docosanol) available?

Abreva® cream is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Cream

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Abreva® cream, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: September 14, 2017 | Last Modified: December 19, 2019

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