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Does Abreva for Cold Sore Treatment Lose Its Affectiveness After the Expiration/Expired Date or Still Work?

Updated on September 16, 2017
Abreva Cold Sore Medicine
Abreva Cold Sore Medicine
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As anyone who has had one knows, cold sores can be painful and embarrassing. When a person gets a cold sore the top concern is to make it go away as quickly as possible. To assist in speeding up the process of healing the cold sore there are medicines available such as Abreva.

Abreva can lessen the amount of time you have the cold sore and minimize the severity of the out break. As someone who has suffered from cold sores myself I can tell you even shortening the amount of healing time by a day or two is worth the expense of using the product.

That said Abreva is not cheap. A small tube costs between $15-20. Abreva's website claims the small tube should suffice in treating 3-4 outbreaks and is effective for a year.

I recently had a cold sore and started using a tube of Abreva which I have had for over 4 years. I found it to be just as effective even though it was over 4 years old. The outbreak was not as severe as when I had not used Abreva in the past and the cold sore was 90% healed by day 7 of the out break. Therefore, even though the medicine was well past its expiration date it produced the same results and had not lost its effectiveness.

That said, the typical tube of Abreva is very small and easy to misplace. The surprise was not that it still worked after four years but that I was able to locate it after four years!

A trick is to put the tube in sandwich bag so that you can find it easily when you need it and it doesn't get buried in the back of a bathroom drawer never to be seen again. Remember the sooner you apply Abreva the greater effectiveness it will have on your cold sore in lessening the outbreak.

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The Myth Of Expiration Dates

Most medicine has expiration dates. Does this mean the medicine is automatically ineffective if used after the expiration date?

The US Military asked this same question when it was faced with disposing of a 1 billion dollar stockpile of expiring medication. It conducted a test study where it tested 100 drugs both over the counter and prescription varieties and discovered 90% of them were just as effective past the expiration date as they were before they "expired". Some by as much as 15 years past their expiration date!

Drug companies, including the makers of Abreva are in the business of marketing and making money. They want you to buy their product as often as possible. They do not want you buying one tube of Abreva and using it for 5 years. But from personal experience that is exactly what you can do.

Now I don't recommend taking expired medication that can have serious health implications, such as blood pressure medicine, but taking a cold sore remedy past its expiration date doesn't fall into this category. So if you have an old tube of Abreva that has been sitting in your bathroom cabinet for over a year go ahead and use it and save yourself a few bucks in the process.

Some Facts about Cold Sore

  1. About 30% of the population is infected with the virus that causes cold sores.
  2. Cold sore, heal on average in 2 weeks.
  3. Stress and Sun exposure may lead to increased outbreaks.
  4. Your doctor can run a test to determine if you have the virus.
  5. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the herpes virus.
  6. Outbreaks may lessen over time.
  7. If your immune system is low you're more susceptible to cold sores


The cold sore will eventually develop blisters. These blisters will then break releasing some liquid. There is a misconception that the pus will cause further outbreaks on the face but this is not true.

The good news is once the blisters break the sore is then beginning to heal and should be mostly gone in about two weeks. Outbreaks tend to last longer in the initial few outbreaks in a person's life and shorten in length to more outbreaks someone experiences. For example, the 10th time you get a cold sore it will likely heal much faster than the second cold sore you experienced.

Using a medicine like Abreva has proven successful in speeding up the healing time.


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