Cold sores can be painful and embarrassing and many people have to suffer through one or more per year. 

If you have a cold sore your top concern is to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Medicines such as Abreva can help speed up the process of healing a cold sore.

Abreva lessens the amount of time you have the cold sore and also minimizes the severity of the outbreak.

Using a medicine like Abreva will shorten the outbreak by two to three days.

This doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you are walking around with a painful, unsightly cold sore on your lip it is well worth the expense of the medicine. 


Abreva is not cheap. A small tube can cost $15-20.

Abreva's website claims the small tube should suffice in treating 3-4 outbreaks and is effective for a year.

In reality most medicines will still work well past their expiration dates, including Abreva.

The Myth Of Expiration Dates

Most medicine has an expiration date but this doesn’t mean the medicine is automatically ineffective if used after the expiration date.

In fact, the United States Military tested this theory when they were facing having to dispose of a stockpile of medicine that was set to expire and was valued at over a billion dollars.  The military conducted tests on over 100 different kinds of drugs and found that over 90% of them have not lost any of their effectiveness after their expiration date. 

Many of the drugs were 15 years past their expiration date and still worked fine. 

Then Why Are Their Expiration Dates?

The short answer is that drug companies, including the makers of Abreva are in the business of making money.

The more often you buy their product the more money they make. 

In the case of Abreva, their website claims one small tube of their medicine will treat 4 cases of cold sores and expires after one year.  Most people who get cold sores only get one or two per year. 

If you follow Abreva’s advice you would be purchasing their product about once per year to treat only one or two cold sore outbreaks. 

But in reality you should only have to buy their product once every 4 years to treat 4 cold sores.  Doing otherwise is simply a waste of money and a marketing trick to get you to buy more cold sore medicine than you actually need.

You Can Gamble With Cold Sores

Although it makes sense that most medicines are still effective past their expiration dates I wouldn’t take this gamble with say, your blood pressure medicine or anything that could have real health repercussions. 

However, 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 a few bucks in the process.