Does Abreva Work to Get Rid of Cold Sores?

Does Abreva really work?Abreva is a product that claims clinical tests can prove that it will increase the rate of healing and get you looking your best again quicker than rival products, but how do we decide if this is the right product?

If you have ever had a cold sore then you will know exactly how irritating it is and how long it takes to heal. A cold sore on the lip can last for weeks if left untreated. Abreva is a medically formulated cream that is applied directly onto the affected area and left to soak in and fight the harmful bacteria.

The Claim
Abreva states that their product is the only non-prescription cold sore treatment that is approved by the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) and that it will “fight cold sores fast and land that knockout blow.” Further reading reveals that Abreva feels that their product will reduce the size, redness and soreness of the cold sore within days.

The product is said to offer a reduction in the time spent itching and scratching at that tingling pain that a cold sore radiates into the face. Abreva is claimed to be a safe product that can be used on children as young as 12 years old.

The Hype
Abreva’s official website shows photographs of models with a cold sore and then a second photo showing reduced redness and size with a caption claiming that the axons picture was taken 24 hours later.

There is of course no way in which to prove this other than buying the product but from reading multiple user reviews, the general consensus is that this product does live up to its claims and outperforms its rivals in its market.

The Cost
One tube of the Abreva medicine cream costs $29.95 and includes free delivery when bought from the website. Some superstores will frequently run promotions on medical creams where it can be bought cheaper.

The Commitment
The worry with all medical cold sore cream is that continued usage will make the body immune to the effects of applying the cream. This may become apparent to those unfortunate people that get continual cold sores but for the majority of people, cold sores occur just once or twice a year.

Once opened, the cream should be used within 12 months and applied to the infected area no more than 3 times a day. When purchased, the cream will arrive with a box and a manual that outlines the basic usage of the product. There are several circumstances under which the cream should not be applied and these guidelines should be followed for the sake of the users’ health.

Abreva works best when it applied to the cold sore in the early stages of the bacterial growth. This will prevent the rate and size that the cold sore will grow to in total. The product contains a substance named Docosanol. The formula that makes up Abreva contains 10% of Docosanol which is the active ingredient that prevents the good cells on the lip or face from becoming infected with the cold sore.

The price is perhaps a little on the high side for these types of treatment but cold sores are usually a genetic viral infection of the body that some people will get constantly, and other will not get in their lifetime. Therefore, for those people that have cold sores popping up on a regular basis, this product is worth a try.

Our Final Abreva Review

The only way that it can be seen whether or not Abreva is the best way to heal a cold sore is to try it. When a cold sore appears apply Abreva directly to the infected area and compare the size and soreness of the cold sore with the last one that appeared. From reading a multitude of online reviews, it appears that Abreva is very highly thought of by the consumer in most cases but there are the odd few that have not been satisfied with the product.

This will always be the case with any product. Given the number of people that have tried it, statistics say that there will be a few cases where it did not work, either from user error or other factors.

Our Recommendation
This product has received mostly excellent reviews from online reviewers and so it would get our recommendation. The best thing to do would be to buy the product and try it on your skin. Everyone will react differently to different formulated substances but the chances are that it will work for you.

Let’s face it, cold sores are embarrassing. If you’re not comfortable picking it up in stores, get some Abreva shipped to your door from Amazon.

What Do You Think? Does Abreva Really Work?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

LS July 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

The problem with cold sores is that you cannot cure the virus that causes them. Instead, you have to deal with trying to thwart the outbreaks or cure them once they appear. There are so many products to choose from at the pharmacy that all claim to speed healing time. Abreva, though, is the only one that actually contains an FDA-approved, patented ingredient that helps to protect the healthy cells in your lips, thus preventing the outbreak from spreading. The key to making it work most effectively is catching a sore before it even reaches the surface of the skin and forms a blister.


Mike Doherty July 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Unfortunately, I suffer from cold sores from time to time. They are embarrassing and you just want them to go away as soon as possible. Abreva tends to be fairly expensive for even a very little amount, but it is a potent medication. Unfortunately, this will not get rid of cold sores entirely. You still have to go through the whole torturous process. But with Abreva, it will heal quicker and the sore will not be as unsightly as it would have been if left untreated. This is a high quality product, although it is astronomically expensive, so be sparing. And I recommend the standard tube over the pump action dispenser, which doesn’t last as long.


Josh B. August 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

LS really hit it on the head with it being a virus that you cannot cure the cause of them but rather, stop the outbreaks by targeting them once they occur. I’ve seen Abreva before but never gave it a chance because it’s too expensive and as Mike said, only provides a small amount for it to be truly useful. If I can find something that has a larger amount contained within it and cheaper. I would buy that instead. But I suppose it’s worth it because it’s high quality, but because the amount too minuscule use it wisely.


Jenn November 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Hi Josh,

I tried Abreva years ago and it actually made my cold sores a lot worse. I put it on at the first sign of tingling and it BLEW UP into a huge one within a matter of hours. It felt like it made it happen FASTER, like all the moisture was feeding the cold sore! 😮

However, I have been using Campho-Phenique for my cold sores and it comes with a lot more to it, and my cold sores behave a lot better. Campho-Phenique has drying effects, so I think it’s better used at the first sign of a cold sore (like they say to do with Abreva). It can work on full-blown cold sores, too, to prevent it from growing, but it does tend to get rather uncomfortable as it dries the area and can lead to cracking/bleeding if you’re not careful. I had a cold sore tingle yesterday, applied Campho-Phenique just once (along with medicated chapstick on the rest of my mouth to prevent the rest of it from going that route, since I notice that when my lips are dry, it sometimes causes the cold sore to come), and I can tell it’s not going to grow. It’s small and dry on my lip and it’ll disappear soon. 😀

As others have said, though, I think the formula of the medicines may affect some differently than others. For me, Abreva didn’t work, and CP does. I sort of lucked out, since CP is much cheaper. 😀


Debbie Wells November 12, 2013 at 10:37 pm

It does work! And it costs $19.99 in most stores not $30. I got a tube on sale for $15. It does in fact speed the healing time. My son uses it too. (life long sufferer of cold sores.)


Desiree February 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

It costs $29 at Walgreens. So, next time I will go to Target. It does work. I noticed that once I started using it, my lip didn’t get worse. It doesn’t hurt anymore either.


Jackie October 16, 2014 at 10:58 am

Cold sores are not a bacteria as stated at least twice in the article. They are the Herpes virus.


Base IcEducation November 30, 2014 at 1:30 am

You should also listen to some who claims cold sores are caused by bacteria. Just shut up and don’t post what you think you know.


Andre January 23, 2015 at 4:47 pm

I’m sorry, but I stopped reading the article at “… bacterial infection.”

Cold sores are caused by the HSV-1 virus, not a bacteria. Please educate yourself on the topics you are writing about before doing so.


Ken January 28, 2015 at 1:39 pm

I’ve found the Abreva works okay and reduces the severity of the cold sore. Cold sores are cause by the Herpes virus, not a bacteria (wish it was, they can be killed) and that is why is reoccurs. Andre and Jackie are correct. Innocent mistake by the author. One thing I have found helps quite a bit is lessen the intake of Arginine. It is found in poultry, some cheeses, dairy, fish and many nuts. I like nuts and try to eat little if any for my condition. Unfortunately it is not a bad supplement and the body needs it also.


Dissapointed July 16, 2015 at 3:31 pm

I can get Aciclovir for half the price over the counter in Germany and Brazil. Aciclovir shows effect 1 day after the first application and stops the blister growth, drying them out and making them crumble away. I bought Abreva yesterday almost falling over backwards when I saw the price. I applied it generously several times and also overnight. The blisters are twice as large today. This is not working at all.


Lolllll October 8, 2015 at 3:37 am

“Bacterial infection” lmao… the uneducated is real in this one.


QuinnCarmen October 21, 2015 at 10:39 pm

The first two times I ever got a cold sore I used over the counter Walgreens/CVS/Campho-phenique products and my cold sore lasted for 2 weeks. This most recent time, I noticed the red tingly bump on Saturday morning, rushed out to the store and decided to try Abreva. I began application immediately and as directed. By Saturday evening I was blistered. I kept using Abreva and was taking L-lysine vitamins every day. It is now day 5 and the blister is gone, already scabbed and fallen off, and now just a somewhat minor red area where the skin is still healing. This combo of Abreva and L-lysine vitamins saved my life! Would definitely recommend Abreva and will use again if needed. I could cry tears of joy because I am 90% healed in 5 days compared to the awful 12-14 days that my last two breakouts took to heal. The ONLY con I have is that there is an ever so slight burning sensation whenever I applied the Abreva cream to the cold sore before the blister and scab formed. I believe this is probably because the skin is very tender and now in a healing stage which makes it more sensitive, however, the burn feeling is so minuscule that it doesn’t bother me at all. I just wanted to mention it in the event that a person has sensitive skin as it might affect them more. Regardless, this product is totally worth it!


Mark Mitchell October 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm

By the time you need Abreva it’s too late. Abreva doesn’t CURE anything. Abreva only treats the symptoms. Maybe it lessons the time it takes to heal….my experience is that it does LITTLE.
A tiny little tube is VERY expensive….(1″ tube with less than 1/10th of an ounce is $16+)


Bruce November 26, 2015 at 1:36 am

Years ago I would get a cold sore maybe once or twice a year. It would do the usual progression…7-10 days of active lesion. The whole process. I finally decided to try Abreva. I always started applying it at the first sign of something going on, usually a slight swelling. It has been about 5 or six years I’ve been using it, and I haven’t had even one full blown cold sore. I would feel the usual indications and start to apply it several times a day. The swelling would start to go down and the sore would disappear before developing and scabbing. For me, personally, it’s absolutely worth the price.


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