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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 ?
Penciclovir and docosanol are topical medications used in managing orofacial herpes lesions (Woo & Robinson, 2016).
Other topical agents (penciclovir 1%; docosanol 10%) produced results similar to topical acyclovir.
The mother is encouraged to buy OTC docosanol (Abreva[R]) ointment and to apply a small amount to the lip at the first sign of the tingling and burning of the lip region.
* Comment: Zovirax cream is the fourth drug approved by the FDA for treating cold sores; other options include Valtrex (valacyclovir) caplets, Denavir (penciclovir) cream, and Abreva (docosanol) cream.
The product uses docosanol to deal with cold sores and fever blisters.
Die Bedeutung von Docosanol und Extractum Radicis Urticae zur konservativen Therapie der Prostatahyperplasie.
Topical penciclovir 1%, acyclovir 5%, or docosanol 10% also decrease the duration of pain and healing time (SOR: A, based on RCTs).
Acyclovir cream shortens outbreaks by 0.5-0.6 day; penciclovir cream by 0.7-1 day; and docosanol cream by 18 hours.
Acyclovir cream shortens outbreaks by about 0.5-0.6 day; penciclovir cream by 0.7-1 day; and docosanol cream, by 18 hours, Dr.
According to the supplier, the product's unique ingredient (docosanol 10%) has been demonstrated to cut healing time in half.
SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare's Abreva, which uses docosanol to treat cold sores and fever blisters on the face or lips, has had a significant impact on the market, according to Information Resources Inc.