Munson Health
Medications for Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Type 1)

Back to Document

by Randall B
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Cold sores usually heal on their own within 7-20 days. Medications for the treatment of cold sores do not cure or rid the body of the virus. They may help to reduce the number of days an outbreak may last and may reduce discomfort.

Prescription Medications

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Penciclovir (Denavir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Docosanol cream (Abreva)
  • Acetaminophen (Aceta, Apacet, Feverall, Panadol, Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Dolgesic, Genpril, Ibuprin, Motrin, Nuprin, Rufen)
  • Neosporin
  • Polysporin
  • Benzocaine (Americaine Topical Anesthetic, Lagol)

Over-the-Counter Medications



Herpes labialis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 27, 2011. Accessed March 20, 2013.

Herpes simplex. DermNet NZ website. Available at: Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed March 20, 2013.

Herpes treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated December 2010. Accessed March 20, 2013.

Kuehl B. Cold sores: how to prevent and treat them. Skin Care Guide website. Available at: Accessed March 20, 2013.


Revision Information