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an antiviral agent effective against activity viruses with a lipid envelope, including herpes simplex virus; used topically in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis.


(doe-koe-sa-nole) ,


(trade name)


Therapeutic: antivirals
Pregnancy Category: B


Treatment of recurrent oral-facial herpes simplex (cold sores, fever blisters).


Prevents herpes simplex virus from entering cells by preventing viral particles from fusing with cell membranes.

Therapeutic effects

Reduced healing time.
Decreased duration of symptoms (pain, burning, itching, tingling).


Absorption: Unknown.
Distribution: Unknown.
Metabolism and Excretion: Unknown.
Half-life: Unknown.

Time/action profile



Contraindicated in: Hypersensitivity to docosanol or any other components of the formulation (benzyl alcohol, mineral oil, propylene glycol, or sucrose).
Use Cautiously in: Children <12 yr (safety not established);Pregnancy (use only if clearly needed).

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

All local reactions occured at site of application


  • acne
  • skin
  • itching
  • rash


Drug-Drug interaction

None significant.


Topical (Adults and Children ≥12 yr) Apply small amount 5 times daily to sores on lips or face until healed.


Cream: 10% cream in 2 g tubesOTC

Nursing implications

Nursing assessment

  • Assess skin lesions prior to and periodically throughout therapy.

Potential Nursing Diagnoses

Impaired skin integrity, impaired (Indications)
Risk for infection, high risk for (Indications)
Deficient knowledge, related to disease process and medication regimen (Patient/Family Teaching)


  • Topical: Cream should be applied to lesions 5 times daily starting at the first sign of a sore or blister.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Instruct patient on correct technique for application of docosanol. Cream should only be applied to lips and face. Avoid application in or near eyes. Emphasize handwashing following application, or touching lesions to prevent spread to others or to other areas of the body.
  • Advise patient to begin application of docosanol at the first sign of a sore or blister, even during prodromal stage (feeling of burning, itching, tingling, or numbness).
  • Inform patient that docosanol reduces duration of herpes simplex virus episodes but does not cure virus. Viral reactivation may be triggered by ultraviolet radiation or sun exposure, stress, fatigue, chilling, and windburn. Other possible triggers include fever, injury, menstruation, dental work, and infectious diseases (cold, flu).
  • Advise patient to notify health care professional if lesions do not heal in 14 days or if fever, rash, or swollen lymph nodes occur.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Reduction in duration of symptoms (pain, burning, itching, tingling) of herpes simplex virus episodes.


/do·co·sa·nol/ (do-ko´sah-nol) an antiviral effective against lipid-enveloped viruses, including herpes simplex virus; used in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis.


an antiviral agent effective against activity viruses with a lipid envelope, including herpes simplex virus. It is used topically in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis.
References in periodicals archive ?
Abreva is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter product to speed the healing of cold sores.
7 million in research services from collaborations with Novartis and AstraZeneca, recognition of $464,000 from the sale of abreva royalty rights to Drug Royalty USA, and revenues from license fees and government research grants totaling $29,000.
This study was funded by Avanir Pharmaceuticals, which markets Abreva.
Singer led global marketing initiatives including the branding for such well-known brands as Sensodyne, Breathe Right and Abreva.
Survey Commissioned by Abreva Finds Majority of Americans Don't Check Ingredients and Choose Medicines Based on Packaging
Abreva is the only OTC medicine approved by the US Food & Drug Administration that is proven to shorten cold sore healing time.
Some over-the-counter medications claim to moisturize lips or relieve symptoms, but only Abreva has 10 percent Docosanol, a medicine that, when applied to a cold sore, helps prevent the cold sore virus from spreading by making it harder for the virus to enter healthy skin cells.
GSK's false claims for its Abreva and Valtrex products violate multiple Illinois laws as well as the federal Lanham Act, according to the lawsuit.
Its more than 40 well-known products include such medicine cabinet staples as Abreva, Aquafresh(R), Nicorette, NicoDerm(R) CQ, Oxy, Panadol, Polident(R), Poligrip(R) Sensodyne(R) and Tums(R).
In December 2002, AVANIR sold rights to a portion of Abreva royalties to Drug Royalty USA and received $20.
0 million milestone from GlaxoSmithKline when Abreva reached the one-year anniversary of product launch and $1.