The Role of Topical 5% Acyclovir and 1% Hydrocortisone Cream (Xerese™) in the Treatment of Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis

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Christopher M. Hull, MD and Stephen Brunton, MD

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Postgraduate Medicine:

Volume 122 No. 5

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Supplements

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DOI: 10.3810/pgm.2010.09.2216
Abstract: Recurrent herpes simplex labialis (HSL), also known as orofacial herpes or cold sores, is a common clinical presentation of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. It may manifest as painful, distressing, and cosmetically displeasing vesicles on the lips, nose, and nasal septum. Although oral or topical treatment with antiviral agents can reduce the replication of HSV-1, the primary benefits of antiviral therapies for recurrent HSL have been limited to modest reductions in healing time; they do not mitigate the accompanying immune-mediated response of the host to the virus. The addition of a topical corticosteroid to an antiviral cream has been hypothesized to improve the clinical outcome of HSL by decreasing the HSV-related immune-mediated inflammatory skin reaction. A recently developed topical cream containing 5% acyclovir and 1% hydrocortisone (AHC) in a novel cream vehicle has been shown to be safe and effective for the early treatment of recurrent HSL in immunocompetent adult and adolescent patients. In a well-controlled clinical trial, AHC cream significantly reduced the frequency of both ulcerative and nonulcerative recurrences (ie, the prevention of vesicular HSL lesions). Treatment was well tolerated, and there was no evidence of emergence of viral resistance to acyclovir with the addition of hydrocortisone. The AHC cream significantly reduced the recurrence of ulcerative and nonulcerative HSL lesions and shortened healing time with early treatment compared with acyclovir 5% cream and vehicle (placebo) cream. Herpes simplex labialis may not typically be considered a serious medical condition; however, the importance of treating HSL should not be overlooked, considering the continuous increase of the viral pool in the general population and the potential psychological and social consequences of the condition when left untreated.

Keywords: antiviral , acyclovir , hydrocortisone , herpes simplex virus , herpes simplex labialis , cold sores , corticosteroids