What Is Acyclovir Cream Used For?
Acyclovir cream is used for treating recurrent outbreaks of cold sores in adults and adolescents age 12 and older. Although the drug cannot prevent future outbreaks from occurring, it can help treat cold sores by fighting the infection and keeping the virus from multiplying. In addition, acyclovir cream can be prescribed for "off-label" reasons to treat other viral skin infections.
What Is Acyclovir Cream Used For? -- An OverviewAcyclovir cream (Zovirax® cream) is a prescription medication approved to treat cold sores.
This article refers to the cream form of acyclovir, which is different from the ointment form (see Acyclovir Ointment).
Cold sores (known medically as herpes labialis) are caused by a virus, usually herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores, also called fever blisters, usually occur on the lips or mouth (unlike canker sores, which occur inside the mouth). Cold sores can be highly contagious (they can spread to other people easily). Most people have been infected with this virus, even if they have never had a cold sore.
Acyclovir cream is approved to treat recurrent cold sores in adults and adolescents age 12 and older.
How Does Acyclovir Cream Work?As mentioned, cold sores are caused by viruses -- specifically, the herpes simplex viruses (HSV). Acyclovir cream is an antiviral medication that helps the body fight the infection by preventing the virus from multiplying.
It is important to understand that once a person has been infected with these viruses, they never go away. Rather, they remain inactive in certain nerve cells of the body, waiting to become active again. In addition, treatment with acyclovir cream does not prevent future outbreaks of cold sores.