What Is Acyclovir and Hydrocortisone Used For?

Acyclovir and hydrocortisone is approved to treat cold sores. In particular, this combination drug reduces the time it takes for the sore to heal and also lowers the risk of the cold sore becoming worse. However, it is not a cure for cold sores, nor will it prevent them in the future. Acyclovir and hydrocortisone is meant for use in people over age 12.

An Introduction to Uses of Acyclovir and Hydrocortisone

Acyclovir and hydrocortisone (Xerese™) is a prescription medication licensed to treat cold sores in adults and children 12 years of age and older. It contains a combination of acyclovir and hydrocortisone in the form of a cream. Acyclovir and hydrocortisone is used to:
  • Shorten the time it takes for a cold sore to heal
  • Reduce the risk of a sore becoming worse.
Cold sores are a common infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Medically, they are known as herpes labialis, and are sometimes referred to as "fever blisters," even though you do not need a fever (or a cold) to get one.
Cold sores usually occur on the outside of the mouth, commonly on the lips. They can also occur on other facial areas, such as the cheeks or chin.
Cold sores can be highly contagious, especially when they break open. They are easily spread from person to person through direct or indirect contact, such as through kissing or sharing things that touch the mouth, like toothbrushes or utensils (see Transmission of Cold Sores to learn more about how cold sores are spread).
The body is not able to completely get rid of the herpes virus. Usually, the virus remains dormant, or inactive, in the body. When it becomes active at some point, cold sores develop (see Cold Sore Triggers to learn about things that can cause the virus to become active).
Many people have early signs (sometimes called prodromal signs) that signal the start of a cold sore. These early signs may include:
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pain.
Soon after, the area becomes swollen, red, and sore. Small bumps start to develop. These bumps turn into one (or more) painful, fluid-filled blister. When the blister breaks open, it forms an ulcer that will dry and turn into a scab. Eventually, the cold sore disappears, and the skin heals.
Acyclovir and hydrocortisone does not cure a cold sore; however, it can shorten the time it takes for the cold sore to heal. It also reduces the likelihood that the sore will form an ulcer. This medication works best if it is started at the earliest signs of a cold sore or when the early signs are first felt.

Acyclovir and Hydrocortisone Information

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