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Home Remedies For Cold Sores
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Docosanol is a saturated fatty alcohol, also known as behenyl alcohol. It is used
as a topical cold sore medicine or treatment for oral herpes (cold sores or fever
blisters) and has been shown to shorten the duration of herpes outbreaks. Unlike
some antiviral drugs such as aciclovir, docosanol can be bought over-
Exactly how docosanol works to reduce the duration of herpes simplex outbreaks has never been empirically tested. It is believed, somewhat speculatively, that it works by inhibiting the fusion of the host cell with the viral envelope, which would prevent the virus from replicating.
Docosanol is intended for topical use only, not for ingestion; unlike other antivirals, it is not a drug that can be taken orally. It is not recommended for use by children under the age of twelve except under a doctor's supervision.
Hands should be washed before and after application of the medication (also before and after any contact with cold sores, and frequently while cold sores are present) to help prevent contagion.
The infected area should also be clean and preferably free from cosmetics and other substances. Docosanol should be applied directly to the infected area, beginning when the first irritation, itching, and soreness appear, and continuing through subsequent phases until the lesions are healed.
The drug should be applied five times a day unless directed otherwise by a physician.The use of docosanol has been shown to reduce the duration of symptoms of herpes simplex by roughly ten percent. If it does operate by preventing replication of the virus, it would also reduce the possibility of infection of others. However, that has not been empirically demonstrated.
Docosanol has a number of possible side effects. These usually disappear over a few days as the body adjusts to the medication. If they do not, the medication should be discontinued and a physician should be consulted. The most common side effect of docosanol is headache. Headaches are usually mild and may occur in any part of the head. Occasionally, headache severe enough to inhibit concentration may occur.
Very rarely, a patient may have an allergic reaction to docosanol which produces more severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, fainting, chest pain, confusion, and dizziness. If symptoms like these occur, they should be treated as a medical emergency. Use of docosanol should be immediately stopped and a physician consulted as soon as possible.
There are no known interactions between docosanol and other drugs. However, if you are using other medications, including nutritional supplements and herbal medications, a physician should be consulted before beginning use of docosanol.
Also, if you have a known allergy either to docosanol itself or to any of the incredients in Abreva, you should not use this drug. Docosanol has not been tested for safety of use when pregnant or as to whether or not it passes into breast milk; to be safe, a different treatment such as aciclovir should be used by pregnant or lactating women.
The drug has been approved only for use with oral herpes (cold sores or fever blisters), and should not be used as a treatment for genital herpes or shingles.
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