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Side Effects of Docosanol

In a clinical study, commonly reported side effects of docosanol included headaches, stuffy or runny nose, and painful menstrual periods. However, side effects usually don't occur unless too much of the drug is taken. Because it can be difficult to tell if docosanol side effects are caused by the medication or by other factors, tell your healthcare provider if you experience anything that doesn't seem "right" during treatment.

Side Effects of Docosanol: An Introduction

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with docosanol (Abreva®); however, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. 
 
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with docosanol. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of side effects with you.)
 

Common Side Effects of Docosanol

Docosanol is a non-prescription medication. With prescription medications, the manufacturers must provide "prescribing information" that includes detailed information about side effects. However, such information is not available for most non-prescription medications, including docosanol.
 
Based on information submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the drug was approved, the following docosanol side effects were reported in a clinical study:
 
  • Headaches -- in up to 12 percent of people
  • Painful menstrual periods -- up to 3 percent
  • Stuffy or runny nose -- up to 2 percent
  • Infection -- up to 2 percent.
     
A Dose of Reassurance for Parents of Picky Eaters

Docosanol -- Medication for Cold Sores

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