Releev vs Abreva: Which one is Better For Cold Sores?

Releev vs Abreva

When it comes to managing cold sores, two names that often come up are Releev and Abreva.

As leading over-the-counter remedies touted for their ability to alleviate discomfort and speed up the healing process of these bothersome blisters, they have been the go-to choices for many.

But the question remains: which of these two is truly the better option for cold sores? Through this article, we will delve into an in-depth comparison of Releev and Abreva, exploring their efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and user experiences to help you make an informed decision.

Releev and Abreva are both popular over-the-counter options for the treatment of cold sores. Releev, known for its Viracea formula, claims to provide relief from symptoms within 24 hours.

In contrast, Abreva, with its active ingredient Docosanol, is FDA-approved and promises to shorten the healing time of cold sores. Both products are easily accessible and can be applied topically on the affected area.

What is Releev?

Releev, also known as Releev 1 Day Cold Sore Symptom Treatment. It is a non-prescription topical solution used for treating symptoms linked with cold sores or fever blisters. It’s also great for relieving the pain, itching, tingling, and burning that comes with cold sores.

Releev’s primary active ingredient is Viracea, a proprietary botanical extract formula that includes Echinacea extract and Benzalkonium chloride. Echinacea is known for its potential immune-boosting properties and Benzalkonium chloride is a commonly used antiseptic.

Merix Pharmaceutical Corp., the company behind Releev, claims this product can relieve cold sore symptoms within 24 hours of the first application.

Please note that although some users have reported positive experiences with Releev, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims. Further research is necessary to establish the effectiveness of this product with certainty.

Releev ingredients

Releev’s active ingredients include the proprietary botanical extract blend Viracea and 0.13% Benzalkonium chloride, each serving specific purposes.

Here’s a detailed list of the ingredients found in Releev and their purposes:

  • Viracea: This is a unique blend of botanical extracts, including Echinacea. It’s thought to have antiviral properties that could help fight against the herpes simplex virus, responsible for cold sores.
  • Benzalkonium Chloride: An antimicrobial agent that acts as an antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection. It may also have some effectiveness against viruses.
  • Echinacea Extract: A popular herbal remedy known for boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation, which could help fight cold sores.
  • Glycerin: This ingredient is used as a humectant, which means it helps retain moisture in the skin, which can be beneficial for the healing process of a cold sore.
  • Methyl & Propyl Paraben: Preservatives used to prevent fungal and bacterial growth in the product, ensuring a longer shelf life.

Releev uses and benefits

Releev’s primary uses and benefits include:

  • Releev is mainly used to treat cold sores and fever blisters. It aims to alleviate discomfort and reduce the duration of outbreaks.
  • The topical solution can help mitigate the pain, itching, burning, and tingling sensations that often accompany cold sores.
  • Releev, with its exclusive Viracea formula, promises rapid relief within 24 hours of the first application, offering quick comfort for users.
  • It’s easily accessible and can be applied topically on the affected area without a prescription.
  • Benzalkonium chloride in Releev has antiseptic properties that may help prevent the spread of the HSV-1 virus that causes cold sores.

Releev side effects

According to FDA guidelines, Releev is generally safe and well-tolerated. However, some users may experience a few side effects. The most common side effects reported by users include:

  • Temporary stinging or burning sensation upon application.
  • Skin irritation or redness at the site of application.

If you are sensitive to any of the ingredients in Releev, it’s best to consult with your doctor before using this product.

What is Abreva?

Abreva is a topical cream that is specially made to treat cold sores on your face and lips. Its primary active ingredient is Docosanol 10%. It is the only FDA-approved antiviral medication that has been clinically proven to shorten the healing time and the duration of symptoms of cold sores.

Unlike Releev, Abreva can be applied up to five times daily and claims to reduce the healing time of cold sores by 17.5%. This makes Abreva an effective option for those seeking relief from cold sores and wanting to speed up the healing process.

Abreva ingredients

Abreva’s active ingredients are centered around Docosanol, an alcohol-based compound that exhibits antiviral activities. Here’s an insight into Abreva’s formulation:

  • Docosanol 10%: Docosanol works by inhibiting the fusion between the human cell plasma membrane and the Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), effectively blocking the entry and subsequent spread of the virus.
  • Behenyl Alcohol: It can help stabilize the cream base, contributing to the overall texture and feel of the product on the skin.
  • Light Mineral Oil: This ingredient acts as an emollient, helping to maintain moisture and soften the affected area.
  • Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol assists in absorption and hydration, enabling active ingredients to penetrate the skin effectively.
  • Purified Water: The inclusion of water is vital for dissolving water-soluble ingredients and providing a medium for the topical application.
  • Sucrose Distearate: This is a surfactant and emulsifying agent that helps to blend the formulation.
  • Sucrose Stearate: Similar to sucrose distearate, sucrose stearate is an emulsifier, which helps to create a smooth and spreadable emulsion.

Abreva uses and benefits

Abreva’s primary uses and benefits include:

  • Abreva is FDA-approved for the treatment of cold sores/fever blisters, making it a reliable and credible option on the market.
  • Docosanol, the active ingredient, has antiviral properties that help stop the spread of the herpes simplex (HSV-1) virus and shorten cold sore healing time.
  • Abreva can be applied up to five times a day and promises to reduce cold sore healing time by 17.5%.
  • Speed up healing and reduce symptoms (tingling, burning, pain, and itching) associated with sores.
  • Regular use of Abreva may help prevent future outbreaks, making it an effective long-term solution for cold sore management.

Abreva side effects

Abreva is generally considered safe and well-tolerated by most users. However, some may experience mild side effects like:

  • Redness or swelling
  • Dryness or flakiness
  • Serious allergic reactions to this drug are rare. However, if you encounter symptoms like a rash, itching, swelling (especially of the face, tongue, or throat), severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing, it is important to seek immediate medical assistance.

Please note that this is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you experience any other symptoms not mentioned above, seek your doctor or pharmacist.

Releev vs Abreva: Which is best?

Releev vs Abreva Which is best

In the battle of Releev vs Abreva, which is better? The answer isn’t always straightforward as what may work for one person may not work for another. Here are some factors to consider:

Both products have been proven to be effective in providing relief from cold sore symptoms. However, Abreva may have an edge in terms of shortening healing time, as it is the only FDA-approved antiviral medication.

Releev’s active ingredient is a proprietary blend of Echinacea and Benzalkonium chloride, while Abreva contains Docosanol 10%. It’s essential to consider allergies and sensitivities when choosing between these two products.

While Releev claims to provide rapid relief within 24 hours, Abreva can be applied up to five times a day and promises to reduce healing time by 17.5%. It ultimately depends on what works best for your lifestyle and schedule.

So, to sum it up, both Releev and Abreva are good options for managing cold sore symptoms. They differ in their active ingredients and application frequency, so it’s best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before choosing one over the other.

Also Read: Robitussin vs Nyquil: Choosing the Best Cold Medicine

Can you use Releev and Abreva together?

Both Releev and Abreva are effective for treating cold sores, but using them together isn’t recommended. Because each product is designed to work on its own to alleviate the symptoms of cold sores.

Using them simultaneously could potentially cause an interaction that might reduce their effectiveness or, in some cases, lead to unexpected side effects.

However, rotating their use could be a possibility, but it’s best to take advice from a healthcare professional before doing so. Always remember, that the key to effective treatment is to follow the instructions provided by your doctor and on the product packaging.

Factors to consider when comparing Releev and Abreva

When comparing Releev and Abreva, it’s essential to consider several factors:

  1. Effectiveness: Both have been proven to be effective in treating cold sores and speeding up the healing process. However, Abreva has the added benefit of being the only FDA-approved antiviral medication that has been clinically proven to shorten the healing duration.
  2. Side Effects: While both products are generally well-tolerated, some people may experience minor side effects like redness, swelling, or dryness. Read the product label for a complete list of possible side effects. Seek medical help right away if any severe reactions happen.
  3. Active Ingredients: Releev’s active ingredient is a blend of Echinacea and Benzalkonium chloride, while Abreva contains Docosanol 10%. If you have any known allergies or sensitivities to these ingredients, this could be a deciding factor.
  4. Frequency of Application: Abreva can be applied up to five times a day, while the usage instructions for Releev may vary. The frequency of application can impact the convenience of use and fit into your daily routine.
  5. Price: The cost of the products might also be a factor to consider. Some may find one product to be more affordable than the other.
  6. Preventative Use: Some people use these treatments to prevent cold sores. If you’re interested, talk to your doctor to find the right product for you.

Keep in mind that what works for one person may not be as effective for another. It’s always a good idea to seek guidance from a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice based on your needs.


Both Releev and Abreva are reputable products that provide relief from cold sore symptoms. They have proven to be effective in reducing healing time and alleviating discomfort associated with outbreaks. Remember to follow the instructions provided and practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the HSV-1 virus.

So, whether you choose Releev or Abreva, make sure to always have one on hand for quick relief from cold sores. So why suffer in silence when these two effective treatments are readily available? Get relief today and get back to feeling your best!


Can Releev and Abreva be used as preventive measures?

Yes, both Releev and Abreva can be used as preventive measures. Releev is an over-the-counter topical gel that can be applied to the affected area at the first sign of a cold sore outbreak to help prevent it from developing further. Abreva can also be used to shorten the healing time of cold sores and also has some preventive properties.

How long does it take for Releev and Abreva to work?

When you notice a cold sore, applying Releev can provide relief within a few hours for some users. It effectively reduces pain in just 3 to 10 minutes. Additionally, other symptoms are relieved within 24 hours, and it quickly soothes skin irritation upon application.

Abreva, on the other hand, is recommended to be applied five times a day until the cold sore is healed, with users reporting a reduction in healing time compared to not using any treatment.

Are Releev and Abreva suitable for children?

Yes, both Releev and Abreva are suitable for children, but with certain stipulations. Releev can be used by children over the age of 2, but adult supervision is recommended during application. Abreva is recommended for use by children aged 12 years and older, or under adult supervision.


The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Don’t ignore professional medical advice or put off seeking it just because of something you read here. Although we aim to offer precise and current information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any losses or damages caused by our content.

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