Cold sores generally clear up without treatment in two to four weeks. Several types of prescription antiviral drugs may speed the healing process. Examples include:
- Acyclovir (Xerese, Zovirax)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
- Penciclovir (Denavir)
Some of these products are packaged as pills to be swallowed. Others are creams to be applied to the sores several times a day. In general, the pills work better than the creams. For very severe infections, some antiviral drugs can be given with an injection.
May 15, 2015
- AskMayoExpert. Cold sores. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Habif TP. Warts, herpes simplex, and other viral infections. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Herpes simplex. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/herpes-simplex. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Ferri FF. Herpes simplex. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. www.merckmanuals.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Cold sores. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Wolff K, et al. Viral diseases of skin and mucosa. In: Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Rakel RE. Dermatology. In: Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Herpes simplex virus. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Klein RS. Treatment of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection in immunocompetent patients. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 23, 2015.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 6, 2015.
- Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: W.B. Saunders; 2011. http://dorlands.com/index.jsp. Accessed March 25, 2015.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.