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Understanding Treatment With Acyclovir and Specific Uses

Acyclovir Ointment Uses for Cold Sores

Cold sores (known medically as herpes labialis) are caused by a virus, usually herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores, also called fever blisters, usually occur on the lips or mouth (unlike canker sores, which occur inside the mouth). Cold sores can be highly contagious (they can spread to other people easily). Most people have been infected with the cold sore virus, even if they have never had a cold sore.
The cold sore virus never really goes away, but remains inactive in certain nerve cells in the body. It can become active again at any time, often triggered by stress or illness, and can cause cold sores.
Acyclovir ointment is not approved for treating cold sores in people with normal immune systems. Instead, it is approved to treat cold sores (as well as genital herpes) in people with weakened immune systems. Certain medical conditions (such as HIV or AIDS) or medications (such as chemotherapy or immunosuppressants) can cause a weakened immune system.

How Does Acyclovir Ointment Work?

Genital herpes and cold sores are caused by viruses -- specifically, the herpes simplex viruses (HSV). Acyclovir ointment is an antiviral medication that helps the body fight the infection by preventing the virus from multiplying.

Is Acyclovir Ointment Used for Children?

Acyclovir ointment is not approved for use in children. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using the drug in children.

Is Acyclovir Ointment Used for Off-Label Reasons?

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend acyclovir ointment for something other than the conditions listed in this article. Currently, off-label acyclovir ointment uses include treating the following conditions:
  • Other types of viral skin infections
  • Genital herpes outbreaks (after the first infection) in people with healthy immune systems
  • Cold sores in people with healthy immune systems.

Acyclovir (Zovirax) Ointment

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