What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Using It?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using docosanol if you:
- Have any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives
- Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Abreva and Pregnancy)
- Are breastfeeding (see Abreva and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Docosanol to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
How Does Docosanol Work?Cold sores are caused by viruses -- specifically, the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Docosanol is not an antiviral medication in the traditional sense, since it does not attack the virus. Instead, the medication works by changing the cell membranes of healthy, uninfected cells. These changes help prevent the cold sore virus from getting into healthy cells, thereby helping to limit the cold sore infection.
It is important to understand that once a person has been infected with the cold sore virus, the virus never goes away. It remains inactive in certain nerve cells of the body, waiting to become active again. Treatment with docosanol does not prevent future cold sore outbreaks.