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Antiviral Medications Contributions by ColleenO

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Side effects associated with antiviral medications range from mild to severe. See individual medications for more information:

of prescription antiviral medicines for cold sores are rare, but may include:

  • Allergic reaction (rash, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing)
  • Decreased urine production
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Upset stomach, decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Local numbness or tingling in area of application

Possible side effects of docosanol (Abreva) include:

  • Headaches
  • Allergic reaction (rash, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing)
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Acyclovir (Zovirax) may be given for the first or later outbreak of cold sores. It is available as a pill and ointment (for later outbreaks). The ointment form may not work as well for cold sores, but may be helpful for genital herpes. The oral form may help to shorten outbreaks, but newer medications (see below) may work better.

Famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex) are the newer versions of acyclovir and do not have to be taken in as large doses or as frequently.

Penciclovir (Denavir) is an ointment that helps reduce the discomfort and length of an outbreak. The cream is applied to the area as soon as the first signs of an outbreak appear. It is used only on the face and lips—not the inside of the mouth and nose or around the eyes.

Docosanol (Abreva) is an ointment. It is similar in its action to the prescription antiviral cream, but it is sold over-the-counter. The cream is applied to the area as soon as the first signs of an outbreak appear. It is used only on the face and lips—not the inside of the mouth and nose or around the eyes.

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Both prescription and over-the-counter antiviral medicines work in essentially the same way: they slow the growth and spread of the virus so that the body can fight it more effectively. They work best if started before the sore breaks out, when there is a tingling or burning sensation in the skin.

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Antiviral medicines are a common form of treatment for cold sores. They are available by prescription or over-the-counter, in the case of Abreva (docosanol).

Common prescription antiviral medicines for cold sores include:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Penciclovir (Denavir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Common over-the-counter antiviral medicine:

  • Docosanol (Abreva)
... (more)

Both prescription and over-the-counter antiviral medicines work in essentially the same way: they slow the growth and spread of the virus so that the body can fight it more effectively. They work best if started before the sore breaks out, when there is a tingling or burning sensation in the skin.

... (more)

Only influenza (flu) can be specifically treated (and, in some cases, prevented) with antiviral medications. Antiviral medications are available by prescription and, due to their potential side effects, are only recommended for people at high risk for complications associated with the flu.

The antivirals discussed here are:

... (more)

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Antiviral medications help treat the flu by inhibiting various functions of the viruses that cause it.

... (more)

Side effects of prescription antiviral medicines for cold sores are rare, but may include:

  • Allergic reaction (rash, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing)
  • Decreased urine production
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Upset stomach, decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Local numbness or tingling in area of application

Possible side effects of docosanol (Abreva) include:

  • Headaches
  • Allergic reaction (rash, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing)
... (more)

Only influenza (flu) can be specifically treated (and, in some cases, prevented) with antiviral medications. Antiviral medications are available by prescription and, due to their potential side effects, are only recommended for people at high risk for complications associated with the flu.

The antivirals discussed here are:

... (more)

Only influenza can be specifically treated with antiviral medication, and those medications should be used only in serious cases because they may have unwanted side effects. Most people with the flu do not need antiviral medicine. If you have the flu, check with your doctor to see if you need antiviral medicine. You will need it if you are in a high-risk group or if you have a severe illness (like breathing problems).

... (more)

Only influenza (flu) can be specifically treated (and, in some cases, prevented) with antiviral medications. Antiviral medications are available by prescription and, due to their potential side effects, are only recommended for people at high risk for complications associated with the flu.

The antivirals discussed here are:

... (more)

Antiviral medications help treat the flu by inhibiting various functions of the viruses that cause it.

... (more)