Representation of a patient dipping into Acyclovir Cream to apply to a cold sore.
Herpes & Cold Sores

How Quickly Does Acyclovir Work for Cold Sores?

By Lizzie De La Cruz
‘Tis the season—for dry and chapped lips. And, if you’ve ever suffered from a cold sore outbreak, you know what that means. Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex virus, which stays in the body once it’s been introduced. The potential for getting a cold sore is always there, but it tends to flare up when certain conditions are met. This might be when you are coming down with a cold and your immune system is a little bit weaker. An outbreak might also occur when you’ve been out in the winter winds or the blazing sun and have caused damage to the skin on your lip. Any split or crack in your lip is a beacon for the virus. There is no way to stop yourself from getting cold sores once you experience an outbreak, but you can prevent the conditions that contribute to them. Wear a lip balm with an SPF when you are out in the sun and keep lip balm handy in the winter—and when you do feel that familiar tingle, apply your Acyclovir Cream.

What is Acyclovir Cream?

Acyclovir Cream is a strong antiviral medication that is used to treat cold sores on the face or lips. It goes right to work at the site of the outbreak and it works by stopping the spread of the herpes virus in the body. Acyclovir Cream does not cure cold sores or stop the spread to other people, but when used at the very first sign of symptoms, it can help reduce the severity of an outbreak and reduce the healing time.

How long will it take to work?

If you’ve caught your cold sore outbreak early enough, you should see a noticeable improvement after using acyclovir for 3-5 days. Your cold sore should clear up in 7-10 days. While Acyclovir Cream may be applied at any time during a cold sore outbreak, it works best when it is applied at the very beginning, when you feel tingling, redness, itching, or a bump but the cold sore has not yet formed. If your symptoms do not improve or worsen after 10 days, call your doctor.

How do I use Acyclovir?

Acyclovir Cream is typically applied to the skin in the affected area 6 times a day for 7 days. It is always important that you consult your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking any new medicine, and that you follow their directions on the label. Acyclovir Cream is for external application only—do not let it get inside your eyes, nose, or mouth, and do not swallow the medication. Do not apply it to any unaffected skin or genital herpes sores, and don’t mix it with other topical products.
Steps for application:
1) Always start with clean hands, and make sure you clean and dry the area of skin where you will be applying the cream.
2) Apply a thin layer of cream to cover the area of skin where the cold sore has formed or is likely to form, and run it in until it disappears.
3) Leave the freshly treated skin uncovered. You don’t need a bandage or to apply a lip balm overtop. Avoid bathing, swimming, brushing your teeth, etc. after application so you don’t wash the cream off. Try not to irritate the area while it is being treated.
4) Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any residual cream.
It’s just that easy! If you are ready to see a significant reduction in the severity and frequency of your cold sore outbreaks, talk to a wisp doctor today about a prescription of Acyclovir Cream.

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