$7.95 - $34.49
3 Stores59 Reviews
Pros: Works very well, cream is odorless and disappears once absorbed into skin
Cons: Expensive, doesn't relieve pain, may not be effective once sore reaches the oozing/scabbing phase
If you suffer from cold sores aka fever blisters, then you know what it's like to live in constant fear of these nasty little blisters that cause big pain and embarrassment. Cold sores can have many causes and we all grow to know our own triggers and warning signs. I usually get them about two or three times a year, during times of extreme stress and lack of sleep. For me, it goes a little something like this:
The area on my lip will start to feel very hot and may start to swell. By the time I can admit to myself that it's really happening, there will be little dark bubbles under the skin, which will develop into white blisters by the time they reach the surface. These white blisters will tingle for as long as the virus is active, and soon begin to ooze if I don't intervene. If the cold sore blisters are allowed to get to the oozing stage, then the disgusting yellow/brown scabby phase is unavoidable. You want to do whatever you can to avoid the yellow/brown scabby phase if you want to show your face in public within the next five days.
I've tried many remedies, including Lipactin (another OTC medication for cold sores), Carmex lip balm, Polysporin, hot tea compresses, and nail polish remover. I had never gotten very good results from either Lipactin (which was goopy and ineffective) or Carmex (which tasted bad and exacerbated the tingling sensation). Oddly enough, the hot tea compresses actually work wonders for soothing pain and bringing down the swelling, and nail polish remover (NOT recommended for children!!) seems to work well for drying the blisters out.
However, knowing that my doctor would probably not approve of me slathering my lips with nail polish remover (it also stings like crazy and tastes awful), I was determined to find a medically approved product that would have the same effect. I had read many favorable reviews of Abreva, and it's also the most expensive OTC available for cold sores - it must be good, right? After a particularly stressful week at work, the little brutes appeared like clockwork on my upper lip. I thought that perhaps all I needed was a nap and they would go down on their own. Stupid, wishful thinking! As soon as I woke up, I felt the size of my lip and realized there was no denying it, it was time for battle. I drove to three different stores before finding the little blue box of Abreva.
The website explains that Abreva contains 10% Docosanol which prevents the virus from invading surrounding healthy cells. By containing the infection, one cold sore will not quickly turn into three. The drug also claims to shorten healing time - the virus becomes trapped as the cell it has hijacked begins to die and the virus is unable to get to the next healthy cell. The virus goes down with the sinking ship, so to speak.
The cream also contains benzyl alcohol, light mineral oil, propylene glycol, sucrose stearate/sucrose distearate, and water. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure to get the ok from your doctor before using Abreva. If you are under 12 years of age, the makers of Abreva have not tested the effectiveness of the product for you - once again, see your doctor.
At $20CAD for a 2.0 gram tube, Abreva is very expensive. But it works!
I, like other reviewers, definitely felt a little cheated when I ripped open the box and the tiny little tube of medicine fell out. The packaging is definitely a bit misleading! While the small size makes it easy to tote around, it is also easy to lose. I would caution against keeping the tube in your pocket, as your body heat will cause the precious cream to start oozing out at an alarming speed when you take the cap off. When you only have 2.0 grams, even a little waste is a big waste!
The box recommends that you apply it up to 5 times a day. I probably applied it more frequently than that, and there was no harm done. Make sure you wash your hands each time you go to touch your lip to prevent spreading the infection, introducing a secondary bacterial infection, or contaminating the tube. Remember to reapply after eating or drinking, and you don't need to put on a lot, just as much as your lip will absorb at any one time - gently rub in a small dab with your finger, and you can wipe away any excess with a clean tissue. The white cream is odourless and dries quickly and without a trace, which I LOVE.
Unlike Lipactin and Novitra, which are gels that claim to dry into a "protective shield" over the sore, the Abreva cream absorbs right into the skin where it's needed most and there's no need to worry about it coming off once it has dried. With Lipactin, the gel always seemed to dry way too fast, and was already goopy even before I could get it onto my lip. Once on my lip, it would dry into a lumpy mass that was difficult and painful to peel off in order to get a fresh coat of gel on. In my opinion, Abreva is much easier to use.
By the time I put the Abreva on my lip, the little bubbles were just about to surface. For the next twelve hours, I reapplied every few hours and watched the sore intently. While there were no immediate improvements, the sore didn't get any worse either. Two days later, all traces of tingling were gone, my lip resumed its normal size, and instead of thick, crusty scabs, there was merely some hardened, dry skin over the blisters that I allowed to come off in its own time. There was no oozing, no bleeding, and very little pain. I had used between a fourth and a third of the tube for one outbreak. That will work out well for me, since the tube will expire in roughly a year, and I've never had more than three outbreaks in one year.
I have no idea if the cream would have much of an effect if the cold sore was allowed to get to the oozing/scabbing stages and beyond (since by then, your body is already healing the sore on its own), but we all know how much easier it is to deal with cold sores at the first sign of them, so I would recommend keeping a tube of Abreva in your medicine cabinet at all times.