First off I am NOT a doctor and I sure don’t play one on TV, yet I wanted to share with the world some thoughts on Abreva. Please consult your doctor for real advice!

Oh the dreaded Cold Sore, I will speculate I have spent 25% of my life either having or healing from Cold Sores. They flat out suck!

Abreva is well known to help shorten the cycle and I have had some success with this, but using it proactively is what I want to talk about.

Cold Sore
One of thousands of photos of me with a Cold Sore.

So what is a cold sore?

Most cold sore sufferers aren’t exactly sure when they first encountered HSV-1. This is because the HSV-1 infection is usually contracted early in childhood and may not result in a visible cold sore outbreak. The virus will stay “asleep” until the secondary infection.

During a cold sore outbreak, which often occurs after you have experienced one of the cold sore triggers, the virus “wakes up” and infects the skin cells in or around your lip or mouth, eventually becoming a visible and contagious sore. By using Abreva® cream at the first tingle,* you can help shorten the healing time of your cold sore cycle.


On site they list the following triggers:

  • Viral infection or fever
  • Hormonal changes, such as those related to menstruation
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Exposure to sunlight and wind
  • Changes in the immune system

With the exception of Hormonal changes, it seems like:

  • One of the above triggers, I am likely to get a cold sore about 10% of the time.
  • With 2 of the triggers, the chances are closer to 50%.
  • With 3 of the triggers, then changes jump up to 90%.
  • With 4 of the triggers, it is almost guarantee I will get one or multiple sores. Ugh!

Yet, I have been trying an experiment the last 9 months. If I have been exposed to one or more triggers, I will apply Abreva to ALL areas of the lips. With this approach I have NOT had a severe outbreak once since.  A couple of times I have had very small outbreaks, but that is when I didn’t apply soon enough after my triggers.

Lets take a concrete example. I went to Puerto Rico and spent a lot time in the sun. (Trigger #1). Travel is stressful (Trigger #2). Travel is also tiring (Trigger #3). Each day of the trip and afterwards, I would apply.  I don’t think I have ever returned from a trip and not got a Cold Sore.  So, yay!

Abreva is not cheap! So, I don’t apply it all the time. Yet this strategy has definitely improved my quality of life and hopefully someone may get some benefit from it.