Cold Sore Medicine
There is only one over-the-counter medicine available that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of cold sores. However, a number of prescription medications can be used to ease the pain and discomfort that often accompanies this type of sore. These prescription drugs for cold sores come in a variety of forms, including oral tablets, ointments, and creams. Lysine may also be effective in preventing and treating cold sores.
A variety of cold sore medicines are available, including prescription medications, non-prescription medications, and supplements.
All of the prescription medications that are approved to treat cold sores belong to a group of medications known as antivirals. Antivirals can be effective in speeding up healing and decreasing the pain and discomfort associated with cold sores.
Topical prescription medicines for cold sores (creams or ointments that are applied directly to the cold sore) include:
- Zovirax® cream (acyclovir cream)
- Zovirax® ointment (acyclovir ointment) -- approved for people with a weakened immune system
- Denavir® cream (penciclovir).
Oral prescription medications (tablets that are taken by mouth) include:
All of these medicines work best if used at the first sign of a cold sore (symptoms often include tingling, itching, burning, or redness).
It is important to understand that treatment with these medicines does not prevent future outbreaks. They are also not approved for use in children (except Zovirax cream and Denavir cream, which can be used in children 12 years of age and older).