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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.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


(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.
Drug Guide, © 2015 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
We prepared docosyl naphthoate by esterification of behenyl alcohol (1-docosanol) with naphthoic acid, as described for cetyl alcohol (22).
The liquid crystal oil-in-water emulsion base is composed of two or more selected from the group consisting of sorbitan stearate, sorbitan laurate, behenyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetearyl glucoside, polyglyceryl-10 pentastearate, and sodium stearoyl lactylate.
(and) behenyl alcohol (and) palmitic acid (and) stearic
INGREDIENTS WT% Phase A Water 74.63 Sodium dehydroacetate 0.12 Phase B VivaPur Cos 5 (Gattefosse) 1.50 (Microcrystalline cellulose (and) cellulose gum) Phase C Glycerin 5.00 Xanthan gum 0.30 Phase D Lysofix Liquid (Kemin) (Glycerin (and) glycine 5.00 soja (soybean) seed extract) Phase E Vegelight 1214LC (Grant Industries) (Coconut 5.00 alkanes (and) coco-caprylate/caprate) Argan oil 1.00 Rosamox (Kemin) (Helianthus annuus 0.25 (sunflower) seed oil (and) rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract) Lanette 22 (BASF) (Behenyl alcohol) 2.00 Jeechem GMS-D (Jeen Products) (Glycetyl 2.50 stearate SE) Jojoba oil 1.50 Phase F Euxyl PE 9010 (schillke) (Phenoxyethanol (and) 1.00 ethylhexylglycerin) Phase G SZ-21070 (Serenity Springs) 0.20 Citric acid (33.33% solution) q.s.
Rettenmaier) 1.00 (Microcrystalline cellulose (and) cellulose gum) Phase C Glycerin 5.00 Xanthan gum 0.30 Phase D Lysofix Liquid (Kemin) (Glycerin (and) 5.00 glycine soja (soybean) seed extract) Phase E Solaveil XT-40W (Croda) (Titanium dioxide 16.00 (and) aqua (and) polyglyceryl-2 caprate (and) sucrose stearate (and) simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil (and) stearic acid (and) alumina (and) glyceryl caprylate (and) squalane) Phase F Jeechem CTG (Jeen) (Caprylic/capric 11.00 triglycerides) Rosamox (Kemin) (Helianthus annuus 0.10 (sunflower) seed oil (and) rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract Sunflower oil 9.00 Stearic acid 3.50 Behenyl alcohol 1.50 Phase G Euxyl PE 9010 (Schulke) (Phenoxyethanol 1.00 (and) ethylhexylglycerin)