Treating Fever Blisters
A variety of medications are available for fever blister treatment, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Antiviral medications come in the form of creams, ointments, and tablets. Ice packs, cool compresses, and pain relievers are also commonly used to help relieve pain or discomfort. To ensure the effectiveness of the treatment, use the medications at the first signs of a breakout.
There are no fever blister cures. However, they will usually clear up on their own without treatment after 7 to 10 days. For a person with frequent fever blisters, a healthcare provider may recommend one of several medications. These medicines are known as antivirals and can be effective in speeding up healing and decreasing pain and discomfort.
Prescription antiviral medicines that are approved to treat fever blisters include:
- Acyclovir cream (Zovirax® cream)
- Acyclovir ointment (Zovirax® ointment) -- approved for people with a weakened immune system
- Penciclovir cream (Denavir®)
- Famciclovir (Famvir®)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex®).
All of these medicines work best if used at the first signs of a fever blister (symptoms may include tingling, itching, burning, or redness).
It is important to understand that treatment with a fever blister medication does not prevent future outbreaks. They are also not approved for use in children (except acyclovir cream and penciclovir cream, which can be used in children 12 years of age and older).
Many fever blister treatments are available without a prescription. Most of these can be used to decrease symptoms of fever blisters, such as burning, pain, and itching. Abreva® (docosanol) is available without a prescription and has been shown to decrease the symptoms and duration of a fever blister.