treatment icon

Aciclovir cream

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 2 minutes read

Aciclovir cream 5% is an antiviral cream used to treat cold sores on the face and lips. Cold sores are caused by a type of virus called the herpes simplex virus type 1. It is best applied at the early stages of a cold sore outbreak where it helps to prevent a cold sore from fully developing. It may also be used to treat and speed up the healing of a cold sore that has already developed.

Doctor’s advice

Who is it for?

Aciclovir cream can be used in both children and adults who have a cold sore. You may have had them before, therefore you can recognise the tingling or burning sensation and apply it then, or it may be the first time you’ve had a cold sore. Cold sores are an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus – once you’ve had contact with the virus, it lies dormant in the skin and may flare up from time to time. You might recognise triggers – stress and exposure to the cold or sun are common ones. Unfortunately, aciclovir only treats the symptoms of a cold sore, nothing can cure you of the virus or prevent any future cold sores.

How do I apply it?

Aciclovir is an antiviral agent that interferes with the growth and replication of viral particles, helping your immune system to target and tackle the virus. Treatment with aciclovir cream is best started at the early stages of a cold sore outbreak - usually identified by a tingling, itching or burning sensation around the lips.

If you've had cold sores before, this is usually in the same area as previous cold sores. Aciclovir cream may also be applied to a fully developed cold sore, when a blister or crust appears. Applied at this stage, aciclovir helps the cold sore to heal faster and relieve discomfort although it doesn’t kill the herpes simplex virus.

It should be applied to the affected area five times a day, for at least four days. It may be used up to a maximum of 10 days. If the cold sore has not fully gone, or you have a cluster of many, or you’re getting them often, do book to see your doctor.

Pharmacist recommended products

Is it for everyone?

Aciclovir cream should not be used by people who are immunocompromised, where you have an immune system weakened by a medical condition or medication. It should not be used if you have allergies to aciclovir or any of the ingredients listed. You should avoid applying to the eye or inside of the mouth. It should not be used for more than 10 days.

Are there any side effects?

Cold sores are common and aciclovir cream is well-tolerated in most people. Some ingredients in aciclovir cream may cause sensitivity or irritation in some people - symptoms indicating this include burning or stinging, and redness or dryness of the skin. If this happens, stop using the cream and seek medical advice.

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
App Store
Google Play
Piff tick
Version 2.28.0
© 2024 Healthwords Ltd. All Rights Reserved