About Cold Sores

You know what they feel like

You likely know what it feels like – the tingling, the itching, the burning before it starts. These are the early warning signs of a cold sore. Next, small blisters appear, usually around the mouth. Eventually, they break open (and can be very painful) before crusting over. A cold sore usually lasts about 1 to 2 weeks.

The best time to begin treatment with ZOVIRAX Cream is when you feel the early warning signs.

What other symptoms should you know about?

When you have a cold sore, you can also have other symptoms, like pain and swelling at the site of the cold sore. If it’s your first outbreak, you can have “flu-like” symptoms, including fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

I feel a cold sore coming on.

Trust your gut. And treat it right away, such as with ZOVIRAX Cream. Treating a cold sore early is proven to shorten an outbreak and reduce the duration of pain.


One of the best ways to manage cold sores is to know what your triggers are. And, it’s important to always have ZOVIRAX Cream on hand.

Triggers generally fall into three categories:

1. Weather
  • Exposure to sun or UV Rays
  • Cold weather or wind
2. Physical Triggers
  • Cold or flu
  • Fever
  • Emotional stress
  • Anxiety
  • Illness or trauma
  • Chapped or cracked lips
  • Menstruation
  • Hormonal changes/pregnancy
  • Fatigue
3. Medical Procedures
  • Dental work
  • Surgery around the mouth or face
  • Cosmetic surgery or ablative laser therapy (laser resurfacing)
  • Chemical peels
  • Therapy for oral cancer (including chemotherapy)
Have ZOVIRAX Cream ON HAND at the FIRST sign of a cold sore.


There is no cure for cold sores. Cold sores are caused by the HSV-1 virus, which stays in your body over your lifetime. This may sound disheartening – but try not to let it discourage you. Know that your symptoms will come and go, and often, you won’t have any at all. Also know that there are many treatments available to help you manage cold sores.

Over-the-counter vs. prescription treatments

OTC means "over-the-counter," so you can buy them without a prescription. No OTC products contain antiviral medications. So, they do not block the HSV-1 virus from replicating (copying itself). While OTCs may help some people, others will need a prescription-strength treatment.

Prescription medications require you to first see your doctor. Prescription medications that are indicated to treat cold sores all contain antivirals, which attack the HSV-1 virus itself. The type of antiviral medication may be different, and can be used in different ways (e.g., pill vs. cream).

Oral vs. topical treatments

You also have choices on how you use your treatment. There are oral prescription antivirals (taken as a pill), and topical medications (gel, cream or ointments that you apply to the cold sore itself). Some people find applying a product to the wound itself to be soothing on the skin, while others may prefer taking a pill. Topical medications can either be OTC or prescription – but only prescription-strength medications contain an antiviral medication. This means it fights the virus itself and can shorten a cold sore outbreak and reduce the duration of pain.

Oral and topical medications may have different side effects, and are taken at different times of the day. Always talk to your doctor about your treatment options. It's important to be an active part of your care so that you can most effectively manage your cold sores.

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ZOVIRAX Cream is a prescription medicine that is used to treat cold sores on the lips and around the mouth only, in patients 12 and older with normal immune systems.

ZOVIRAX Cream is not a cure for cold sores.

Important Safety Information

Do not use ZOVIRAX Cream if you are allergic to Zovirax Cream, acyclovir, valacyclovir, or any of its ingredients. ZOVIRAX Cream is most effective when used early, at the start of a cold sore. For best results, apply the cream at the first sign of a cold sore (such as tingling, redness, bump, or itch).

Use ZOVIRAX Cream only on your affected skin. Do not swallow ZOVIRAX Cream or apply it to the eyes, inside the mouth or nose, or on the genitals. Do not apply other topical products to the affected area while using ZOVIRAX Cream.

Before you start using ZOVIRAX Cream, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking and any medical conditions you have, including if you become sick very easily (have a weak immune system), are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast feeding. You should not breastfeed if you have a cold sore near or on your breast.

The most common skin-related side effects of ZOVIRAX Cream are dry or cracked lips, flakiness or dryness of skin, a burning or stinging feeling, or itching of the skin.

You are encouraged to report side effects to FDA. Visit fda.gov/medwatch.com or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Click here for Prescribing Information.

*This offer is only valid for patients with commercial insurance. Eligible uninsured patients will pay more. This offer is not valid for any person eligible for reimbursement of prescriptions, in whole or in part, by any federal, state, or other governmental programs, including, but not limited to, Medicare (including Medicare Advantage and Part A, B, and D plans), Medicaid, TRICARE, Veterans Administration or Department of Defense health coverage, CHAMPUS, the Puerto Rico Government Health Insurance Plan, or any other federal or state health care programs. This offer is good only in the U.S. at retail pharmacies owned and operated by Walgreen Co. (or its affiliates) or other participating independent retail pharmacies. This offer is not valid in Massachusetts or Minnesota or where otherwise prohibited, taxed or otherwise restricted. Click here for other terms and conditions that apply.