HOW DO TOPICAL ANTIVIRALS WORK?

Reviewed on 5/11/2021

WHAT ARE TOPICAL ANTIVIRALS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Antivirals are used to treat infections caused by a virus (herpes simplex virus) and cold sores. They speed up the healing process and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Topical antivirals work by inhibiting the growth of the virus (prevents the virus from multiplying). Although they will not cure the viral infection (as they cannot kill the virus), but they may help reduce the pain and discomfort caused by the sores and can help speed up the healing process. In addition, they cannot prevent the spread of the virus to other people.

The treatment should be started within 24 hours of the first symptom of the herpes infection (pain, burning, and blisters).

HOW ARE TOPICAL ANTIVIRALS USED?

Topical antivirals are used to treat:

  • Cold sores/fever blisters on the face or lips (herpes labialis)
    • Shortens healing time
    • Reduces pain, burning, and itching
  • Herpes simplex virus infection of the skin, mucous membranes, and genitals
  • Topical antivirals should be used several times a day (usually five to six times a day/every 3 to 4 hours).
  • Follow these simple steps:
    • Wash your hands before and after application
    • Clean and dry the affected area
    • Use a rubber glove; this will help avoid spreading of infection to other areas
    • Apply the cream to the affected area gently
    • Apply enough to cover all the sores/blisters
    • If you miss a dose, apply as soon as you remember and then continue at usual times
    • Do not apply in the eyes, nose, or inside the mouth
    • Do not bathe/shower right after applying it
    • Topical antivirals do not prevent the spread of herpes; avoid close contact with others

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOPICAL ANTIVIRALS?

Common side effects include:

  • Skin burning/stinging at the affected site
  • Dry cracked lips
  • Flaky skin
  • Mild pain

Other rare side effects include:

The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

SLIDESHOW

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 Rashes: Common Adult Skin Diseases See Slideshow

WHAT ARE DRUG NAMES OF TOPICAL ANTIVIRALS?

Drug names include:

References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/antivirals-topical

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-5231-432/acyclovir-topical/acyclovir-cream-topical/details

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a606001.html#:~:text=Acyclovir%20is%20in%20a%20class,these%20conditions%20to%20other%20people.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/20606-acyclovir-skin-cream-or-ointment

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