releev vs abreva cold sore treatment

If you’ve ever had cold sores you know the pain and discomfort that’s associated with them. Not to mention the internal pain that your ego has to suffer because of the appearance.

Looking for a remedy that not only numbs the pain and itching but gets rid of the cold sore will quickly climb at the top of your priority list.

Two of the most commonly used creams are Releev and Abreva. Let’s review them and see if one is better than the other.

Safety and Chemical Composition

In terms of safety considerations, Abreva cream is the only non-prescription cold sore medicine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its main active ingredient is Docosanol.

On the other hand, Releev is a relatively new product in the treatment of cold sores. It’s a topical microbicide that’s a blend of benzalkonium chloride 0.13% and phytochemicals.

How Do The Creams Work?

The goal is to make these cold sores disappear but how exactly do these creams work?

Abreeva works by:

  • Penetrating deep into the skin to the source of the spreading virus
  • At the core of the sore, it blocks the virus by providing a barrier to protect healthy skin cells

Releev has antiseptic properties so after application it will result in the following:

  • Cleansing the sores
  • Drying the sores
  • Prevent secondary infections

How Long Before Abreva & Releev Work?

The good news is with Releev you can expect most of the symptoms to clear up within just 24 hours of initial use. Be prepared to wait a little longer when you use Abreva as it can take up to 2 ½ days to clear up the sores if you applied it at the first sign of a sore.

Where Can You Apply These Creams?

Both are topical creams meaning they should never be ingested. You can apply either Releev or Abreva externally particularly in these places:

  • On the sores
  • Inside the lips
  • On oral mucosa

How Often To Use?

With Abreva cream, you can apply it up to five times a day. Application with Releev is recommended to only three or four times a day.

Whether you’re using Abreva or Releev you can use a cotton swab or your finger and remember it’s vital the sore is completely covered.

Who Can Use These Products?

Releev is non-irritating and can safely be used by adults & kids older than two years. However, while Abreva can be used by adults it has an age restriction: Kids under the age of 12 shouldn’t try this.

Note: Regardless of your child’s age you must talk to your doctor first before applying just to be on the safe side.

TIP: Cold sores are contagious so never share a tube.

When to Use Creams

With any medication starting treatment as early as possible is advisable to quickly combat the problem and shorten the duration of the illness. Cold sore treatment is no exception.

For effective results apply these creams at the first sign of a tingle, bump or itch. After that, you keep on applying to relieve symptoms.

When Not to Use

While it’s relatively safe to use, there are certain instances where you can’t use Abreva. Avoid it if you’re allergic to daisies or if you have a yeast infection.

It’s important to consult your doctor before using either Releev or Abreva in the following cases:

  • Pregnancy
  • If you’re breastfeeding

Possible Side Effects

Like any other medication, you can expect an allergic reaction or side effects, depending on how your body reacts. This can be in the form of:

  • Headache
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Dryness
  • More serious side effects:
    • Rash, hives or itching
    • Swelling of your lips, tongue and face
    • Breathing difficulty

Yes, there is some risk in any treatment, but hopefully picking either of these will help you get rid of those cold sores—and fast.

READ MORE: How to treat a canker sore?

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.