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Combinations of Corticosteroids with Antivirals
Topical Antivirals

Topical Administration Cream/Ointment/Lotion Formulations

Apply acyclovir; hydrocortisone cream topically to cold sore lesions.
Apply a quantity sufficient to cover the affected area, including the outer margin.
Avoid unnecessary rubbing of the affected area to avoid aggravating or transferring the infection.
Do not apply the topical cream to the eye, inside the mouth or nose, or on the genitals.
Use a finger cot or rubber glove when applying to avoid transmission of the virus to other sites or persons.
Wash hands thoroughly after administration.
Do not cover cold sore with an occlusive dressing or bandage.
Do not use other skin products (make-up, sun screen, lip balm) or other skin medications on the cold sore or around the cold sore.
Do not bathe, shower, or swim, within 30 minutes of applying acyclovir; hydrocortisone.

Adverse Reactions

erythema / Early / 0-1.0
contact dermatitis / Delayed / Incidence not known


xerosis / Delayed / 0-1.0
skin irritation / Early / Incidence not known

Common Brand Names


Dea Class



Topical antiviral and steroid combination agent for herpes labialis (cold sores).

Dosage And Indications
For the early treatment of recurrent herpes labialis (cold sores) to reduce the likelihood of ulcerative cold sores and to shorten the lesion healing time. Topical dosage Adults, Adolescents, and Children >= 6 years

Apply topically to orofacial affected area 5 times per day for 5 days as early as possible after the first signs and symptoms of herpes labialis occur (during the prodrome or when lesions appear).

Dosing Considerations
Hepatic Impairment

Specific guidelines for dosage adjustments in hepatic impairment are not available; it appears that no dosage adjustments are needed.

Renal Impairment

Specific guidelines for dosage adjustments in renal impairment are not available; it appears that no dosage adjustments are needed.

Drug Interactions

There are no drug interactions associated with Acyclovir; Hydrocortisone products.

How Supplied

Xerese Topical Cream: 5-1%

Maximum Dosage

Apply 5x/day.


Apply 5x/day.


Apply 5x/day.


>= 6 years: Apply 5x/day.
< 6 years: Safety and efficacy have not been established.


Safety and efficacy have not been established.


Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Mechanism Of Action

Acyclovir is an antiviral agent; hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid.
Acyclovir: Acyclovir has inhibitory activity against herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) in vitro and in vivo. Acyclovir selectively binds the thymidine kinase (TK) enzyme to inhibit viral DNA synthesis. The viral TK enzyme converts acyclovir into acyclovir monophosphate (a nucleotide analogue), which is further converted into acyclovir diphosphate and then acyclovir triphosphate. Acyclovir triphosphate competitively inhibits and inactivates viral DNA polymerase. It is also incorporated into and terminates the viral DNA chain. Viral resistance can result from qualitative and quantitative changes in the viral TK enzyme and/or viral DNA polymerase. HSV isolates with reduced acyclovir susceptibility have been recovered from immunocompromised patients. Viral resistance should be considered in patients who fail to respond or experience recurrent viral shedding during therapy. Cross-resistance has been observed among HSV isolates carrying mutations and resistance-associated substitutions, which confer reduced susceptibility to penciclovir, famciclovir, and foscarnet.
Hydrocortisone: Hydrocortisone is the main glucocorticoid secreted by the adrenal cortex. When used topically, hydrocortisone exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that help suppress the clinical manifestations associated with the herpes infection outbreak.


Acyclovir; hydrocortisone is administered topically.
Acyclovir: Minimal absorption of acyclovir is expected after topical application of acyclovir; hydrocortisone. If acyclovir does reach systemic circulation, it would be expected to undergo metabolism and excretion similar to systemically administered acyclovir. After systemic administration, infected viral cells transform acyclovir to its active triphosphate, and a small proportion may be metabolized extracellularly. Renal elimination via glomerular filtration and tubular secretion of unchanged drug is the major route of elimination accounting for 62—91% of the dose. The elimination half-life of acyclovir is 2.5—3.3 hours.
Hydrocortisone: If hydrocortisone is absorbed through the skin, it binds to plasma proteins. Hydrocortisone is metabolized primarily in the liver and then excreted by the kidneys.

Topical Route

Acyclovir: Acyclovir; hydrocortisone plasma concentrations have not been measured after topical administration on cold sores; however, when applied as a single ingredient topically, systemic absorption is minimal with no drug detected in the blood or urine.
Hydrocortisone: Acyclovir; hydrocortisone plasma concentrations have not been measured after topical administration on cold sores. However, many factors determine the extent of percutaneous absorption of topical corticosteroids, including the vehicle used, the integrity of the epidermal barrier, and the use of occlusive dressings. Topical corticosteroids can be absorbed from normal, intact skin and can have systemic side effects depending on the potency of the steroid and the size of the surface area to which the steroid is applied. Inflammation and other diseases of the skin that disrupt the skin barrier can increase percutaneous absorption.

Pregnancy And Lactation

There are no data available on acyclovir; hydrocortisone use during pregnancy; however, published studies of topical acyclovir and low and medium potency topical corticosteroids during pregnancy have not established any association between use of these products and major birth defects, miscarriage, or adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. Systemic exposure of acyclovir and hydrocortisone after topical administration for herpes labialis is expected to be minimal.

There are no data available on the presence of acyclovir or hydrocortisone in human milk, the effect on the breastfed infant, or the effect on milk production. However, systemic exposure of acyclovir and hydrocortisone after topical administration for herpes labialis is expected to be minimal. Consider the developmental and health benefits of breast-feeding along with the mother's clinical need for acyclovir; hydrocortisone and any potential adverse effects on the breast-fed infant from acyclovir; hydrocortisone or the underlying maternal condition.