In this article, I’m going to blow your mind with a superabundance of highly-effective prescription medications for cold sores.
I’m SUPER EXCITED to share these cold sore prescription medications with you!
I used to get recurring cold sores for a couple of decades of my life. During several of those years, I would even get as many as 4-6 cold sores in a single year. And since each cold sore would take about two weeks before it was completely healed, this means that 2-3 months out of the year I would have a cold sore on my lip!
It was awful.
But fortunately, I’ve now been cold-sore-free for over four years. To help others achieve a cold-sore-free life, I created this comprehensive website, and I publish new articles on cold sore treatment and prevention on a regular basis.
I gotta tell ya…I’m pumped to be writing this article on prescription medications for cold sores right now. The things you’re going to learn about cold sore prescription medications are going to change your life for the better…guaranteed.
Here’s a brief overview of the types of prescription medications for cold sores that I’m reviewing:
So now, without further ado, let’s move forward, and begin learning about all of the miraculous prescription medications for cold sores that come in oral tablets, oral liquids, and topical creams that have all been shown in research studies to be extremely effective cold sore prescription medications.
But before I do that…let’s first discuss the nature of cold sores…
Prescription Medications For Cold Sores: Cold Sore Overview
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are groups of small blisters that form on or near the lips. Cold sores are a result of something called herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are two types of HSV, and both can cause cold sores. HSV-1 typically is responsible for cold sores, and HSV-2 is most often the cause of genital herpes.
However, both types of HSV can cause cold sores or genital herpes.
After primary infection, the virus resides in the associated dorsal root ganglion where it lies dormant until an external stimuli (such as stress or immunosuppression) initiate reactivation of the virus from dormancy.
The virus lives on forever, and that’s why people continue to get cold sores over and over again.
Cold Sore Prescription Medication #1: Valtrex
Valtrex is one of the top prescription medications for cold sores. Valtrex is the brand name for valacyclovir, an antiviral drug that is most commonly used to treat infections by the herpes viruses that cause cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles. Valtrex was approved for medical use in 1995.
Valtrex is indicated for the treatment of HSV and VZV infections, including:
- Cold sores and genital herpes (treatment and prevention)
- Reduction of HSV transmission from people with recurrent infection to uninfected individuals
- Herpes zoster (shingles)
- Prevention of herpes viruses in immunocompromised patients
- Prevention of cytomegalovirus following organ transplantation
Valtrex is a prodrug of acyclovir. This simply means that your body converts Valtrex to acyclovir after it’s absorbed.
The net result of this process is that this prescription medication for cold sores is:
- Delivered efficiently
- Absorbed well
Due to these effects, the prescription medication for cold sores can be taken fewer times per day. Valtrex works by stopping the herpes viruses from reproducing.
Herpes simplex virus
This leads to HSV infecting fewer cells in your body. Once Valtrex enters the HSV-infected cells, Valtrex begins to block the effects of DNA polymerase, an important enzyme which is needed by the herpes viruses to copy their genetic material and spread to other cells.
When Valtrex blocks the effects of DNA polymerase, the herpes viruses are not able to multiply. When the viruses can’t multiply, the magnitude of severity of the herpes infection is lessened, so one typically has a smaller cold sore which heals faster than usual.
The benefits of using Valtrex for cold sores have been scientifically documented in research studies. In two major studies involving a total of 3,151 participants, using Valtrex as a cold sore prescription medication had favorable results over a placebo.
Prescription Medications For Cold Sores: How To Use Valtrex
As you can see, using Valtrex as a prescription medication for cold sores is a proven method of treatment. If you’re going to use this prescription medication for cold sores, make sure you follow the proper dosing guidelines as outlined on Valtrex.com.
How to use this popular prescription medication for cold sores:
- Always use Valtrex under the supervision of your doctor.
- Valtrex may be taken on an empty stomach or with food.
- Take 2 grams of Valtrex twice daily for 1 day taken 12 hours apart. Therapy should be initiated at the earliest symptom of a cold sore (e.g., tingling, itching, or burning).
- Before taking Valtrex, make sure you review the possible side effects and interactions.
- Valtrex is not FDA-approved for recurrent episodes, suppressive therapy, or reduction of transmission of cold sores (but it is for genital herpes). However, many doctors prescribe Valtrex for off-label cold sore purposes, such as daily use for cold sore prevention, etc.
Cold Sore Prescription Medication #2: Acyclovir
Acyclovir is another one of the top cold sore prescription medications. Acyclovir is an antiviral drug that is most commonly used to treat infections by the herpes viruses that cause cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles. The discovery of aciclovir was announced in 1977.
Aciclovir is used for the treatment of herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster virus infections, including:
- Genital herpes simplex (treatment and prevention)
- Neonatal herpes simplex
- Herpes simplex labialis (cold sores)
- Acute chickenpox in immunocompromised patients
- Herpes simplex encephalitis
- Acute mucocutaneous HSV infections in immunocompromised patients
- Herpes of the eye and herpes simplex blepharitis (a chronic (long-term) form of herpes eye infection)
- Prevention of herpes viruses in immunocompromised people (such as people undergoing cancer chemotherapy)
Acyclovir, being one of the most popular cold sore prescription medications, can be used to shorten the healing time of a cold sore, and it can also be used for cold sore prevention.
Using acyclovir at the first sign of cold sores can lead to the following benefits:
- Decreases the severity and length of a cold sore outbreak
- Helps the cold sore heal faster
- Keeps new cold sores from forming
- Decreases the pain and itching of a cold sore
In addition, in people with a weakened immune system, acyclovir can decrease the risk of the virus spreading to other parts of the body and causing serious infections, making it one of the most powerful prescription medications for cold sores.
Prescription Medications For Cold Sores: Types of Acyclovir
Acyclovir is a cold sore prescription medication that comes in a few different forms, which have all been shown to be extremely useful in the treatment of cold sores.
Acyclovir is currently available by prescription only in the following forms:
- Tablet (Oral)
- Liquid (Oral)
- Cream (Topical)
The following dosing guidelines for using acyclovir as a prescription medication for cold sores were taken from Drugs.com, a very reputable website on this type of information.
Usual Adult Dose for Herpes Simplex Labialis:
Apply 50 mg (1 buccal tablet) as a single-dose to the upper gum region (canine fossa)
-Tablet should be applied within 1 hour after the onset of prodromal symptoms and before the appearance of any signs of herpes labialis lesions.
-Tablet should be applied on the same side of the mouth as the herpes labialis symptoms.
-Use of buccal tablets has not been studied in immunocompromised subjects.
Concomitant HIV infection:
Oral tablets: 400 mg orally 3 times a day for 5 to 10 days
Comment: Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections Among HIV- Infected Adults and Adolescents may be consulted for additional guidance.
Use: For the treatment of herpes simplex labialis (cold sores).
Usual Adult Dose for Herpes Simplex – Suppression:
Daily Suppressive Therapy for Recurrent Disease: 400 mg orally 2 times a day
-Alternative regimens from 200 mg orally 3 times a day to 200 mg orally 5 times a day have been used
Concomitant HIV infection: 400 to 800 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day
Prescription Medications For Cold Sores: How To Use Topical Acyclovir Cream
Another way to use acyclovir as one of the top prescription medications for cold sores besides using a tablet or liquid suspension is to use acyclovir cream or use the brand name Zovirax Cream.
The following dosing guidelines for using acyclovir cream as cold sore prescription medication were taken from MedicinePlus.gov:
- Wash your hands.
- Clean and dry the area of skin where you will be applying the cream.
- Apply a layer of cream to cover the skin where the cold sore has formed or seems likely to form.
- Rub the cream into the skin until it disappears.
- Leave the skin where you applied the medication uncovered. Do not apply a bandage or dressing unless your doctor tells you that you should.
- Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any cream left on your hands.
- Be careful not to wash the cream off of your skin. Do not bathe, shower, or swim right after applying acyclovir cream.
- Avoid irritation of the cold sore area while using acyclovir cream.
Whether you’re taking oral acyclovir or acyclovir cream as prescription medications for cold sores, you must always use it under the care of your prescribing doctor. These are just guidelines, so please ask your doctor how to take these forms of acyclovir as cold sore prescription medications.
Cold Sore Prescription Medication #3: Famvir
Famvir is the last drug I’m reviewing which is yet another one of the most helpful and popular cold sore prescription medications. Famvir is the brand name for famciclovir, an antiviral drug that is most commonly used to treat infections by the herpes viruses that cause cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles. Famvir was approved for medical use in 1994.
Famvir is prescribed for the following:
- Herpes zoster (shingles)
- Treatment of herpes simplex virus 2 (genital herpes)
- Herpes labialis (cold sores) in immunocompetent patients
- Suppression of recurring episodes of herpes simplex virus 2. It is also indicated for the treatment of recurrent episodes of herpes simplex in HIV patients.
Since cold sores come from a virus, the powerful antiviral drug Famvir is able to fight the herpes simplex virus in a very effective way.
When taken at the first sign of a cold sore (tingle, itch, burn) you can either prevent the cold sore from popping up or at minimum reduce the size and pain and shorten the healing time.
Herpes simplex lives in the nerve endings and thus is never cured, but Famvir can be used to treat or even prevent the symptoms of the virus.
Using Famvir as one of the best cold sore prescription medications can lead to the following benefits:
- Decreases the severity and length of cold sore outbreaks
- Helps the sores heal faster
- Keeps new sores from forming
- Decreases pain/itching
- May also help reduce how long pain remains after the sores heal
In addition, in people with a weakened immune system, Famvir can decrease the risk of the virus spreading to other parts of the body and causing serious infections, making it one of my favorite prescription medications for cold sores.
In a study from 2008, famciclovir and other antiviral drugs were tested to see how effective they were in the treatment of cold sores.
Here is a direct quote from the study:
Two treatment regimens with famciclovir (single 1500-mg dose or 750 mg twice daily for 1 day) were studied in 701 patients. The patients in the famciclovir groups had a shorter median time until the first lesions healed than did the placebo group (single dose: 4.4 days; 750 mg twice daily: 4.0 days; placebo: 6.2 days). In all of these studies, treatment was initiated when the first prodromal symptoms appeared.”
Prescription Medications For Cold Sores: How To Use Famvir
After reading about the proven benefits of using Famvir as one of the best prescription medications for cold sores, you may decide that you’d like to use this medication.
If so, make sure you adhere to the following guidelines of this cold sore prescription medication:
- Always use Famvir under the supervision of your doctor.
- Herpes labialis (cold sores) recommended dosing is 1500 mg as a single dose for immunocompetent adults.
- Famvir is most effective if started at the earliest sign or symptom of a cold sore (such as tingling, burning, itching, pain, or lesion).
- Famvir is prescribed for chronic suppression of recurrent genital herpes, and some doctors also prescribe Famvir for daily use to suppress recurrent cold sores outbreaks.
- Make sure you review the possible side effects and interactions of using Famvir or the generic famciclovir for cold sores.
Cold Sore Prescription Medications: Conclusion
Not that you’ve been educated on the awesome benefits of these Top 3 Prescription Medications For Cold Sores, you can decide whether or not you want to go see your doctor and get a cold sore prescription medication.
These prescription medications for cold sores have all been shown in studies to be helpful, however, some individuals report that these medications don’t work as well as they would like.
Additionally, some people report negative side effects from using cold sore prescription medications, ranging from mild, to moderate, and even severe in some cases.
If you want to supercharge your cold sore treatment and prevention plan, I highly recommend checking out my Ultimate Guide To Preventing Cold Sores.
It’s free and has absolutely everything you need to know to avoid getting cold sore outbreaks for LIFE.
If you have any comments or questions on any of the prescription medications for cold sores I wrote about in this article, please post them in the comment box below.