What is a cold sore?
Cold sores are small blisters which can appear anywhere on or around the lips and less commonly on your child’s nose or cheek. It is possible for them to appear anywhere on the face. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). They are quite common, this is because once you have the herpes simplex virus it stays in your skin for life. Often the virus doesn’t cause any symptoms and you can go years without even knowing you have it! Sometimes things like other illness, hormones, or exposure to sunshine can trigger the virus to activate and cause a cold sore. They are highly contagious and pass by close contact – so no – you’re not being OTT by asking people with cold sores to keep distance from your newborn!
What does a cold sore look like?
Cold sore are small fluid filled blisters which often are preceded by a tingling, itching or burning feeling.
The blisters burst within a couple of days and crust over to form a scab. This can be extremely irritating and can take about ten days to heal. Often the skin will crack whilst the scab is healing which can slow down the recovery process.
How do I treat a cold sore?
At the earliest onset of symptoms including itching or tingling:
Zovirax cream – This can be used on children for cold sore on the skin of the lips and face – but remember if your child is a newborn or has a weakened immune system you should see the doctor for advice. This cream should be applied every four hours ( up to five times a day) starting as soon as symptoms occur. You can use the cream for up to ten days but if the cold sore remains after that period you should see the doctor. Don’t apply the cream inside the mouth or near the eyes. To read the full patient information leaflet click here!
For the cracked blister stage:
Once the blister has scabbed over continue to apply the Zovirax five times a day – but in between applications I find it really useful to use Blistex Relief Cream. It does not contain an antiviral agent and works purely by conditioning and healing lips to prevent cracking and delayed healing.
Do I need to see a doctor?
- If a newborn shows signs of a cold sore you should bring them to the doctor as they have weaker immune systems. Newborn babies are at risk of neonatal herpes which needs special treatment. It can be a serious life threatening condition but usually babies make a full recovery – it’s just important to be vigilant with newborns at all times. Seek medical attention if you suspect a cold sore with a newborn.
- If you’re not sure your child’s symptoms are a cold sore – other infections can also cause blisters or spots around the mouth to appear such as impetigo, hand foot and mouth disease and chicken pox to mention a few.
- If the cold sore is near your child’s eyes or or inside your child’s mouth. Cold sore creams are recommended for the lips and face only.
- If your baby is suffering from low energy, not feeding, or has multiple cold sores or a high temperature you should contact the doctor.
- As always if your baby is drowsy or unresponsive, has breathing difficulties or is breathing rapidly and has blue colouring around the mouth call emergency services on 112.
- Use a lip balm with SPF when going out into the sunshine.
- Ensure your child is getting enough rest and sleeping well.
- Get the Zovirax cream on as early as you can – it works better the earlier you apply it! Remember to dab it on rather than rubbing it in.
- Offer your child cool, soft food in case they are very sore.
- Ensure everyone is using really good hand hygiene – especially before and after applying cream.
- Try to stop a child with a cold sore from kissing people – use hugs instead!!
- Ensure they are staying well hydrated and if you are worried they are not drinking enough check out my article about the signs of dehydration by clicking here!
- Try to stop your child from touching the cold sore ….good luck with that.
- Ensure kids aren’t sharing cutlery, lip balm or anything else that comes in contact with their lips!
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.