First thing’s first, do not kiss your baby if you have a cold sore or any viral infection. If you have a newborn baby, they might still have their mother’s immune system in their blood, but they are also still adjusting to the outside world (a.k.a. outside your womb) whose immune system is not yet fully developed to fight off the virus. Everything from the temperature down to the air is new to them. Basically, the younger the baby, the more vulnerable they are to the harmful effects of infection.
If for any reason, you unintentionally kissed your baby with a cold sore, the first thing that you need to do is to try and eliminate traces of the virus immediately. Give them a quick bath focusing on the part where you kissed your baby; soap and water can eliminate the virus. After that, call your pediatrician and advise what happened to get some professional advice on what to do if symptoms start to show up, and then you wait. Monitor your baby closely for early symptoms such as fever, blisters, and lost appetite.
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What happens if a baby gets cold sore?
Cold sores pose the highest risk to infants during the first weeks of their lives. The herpes virus can cause severe problems at this stage and may even be fatal if it spreads to the organs, including the eyes, brain, or lungs. In babies and kids, colds sores are usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Adults also mostly get cold sores from HSV-1 but can sometimes get them from another herpes virus, HSV-2. Here’s a list of possible symptoms to help you decide when to take your baby to the hospital.
- High fever – For babies and children, the average body temperature ranges from 97.9°F (36.6°C) to 99°F (37.2°C); it could change depending on their activity. In general, a reading that is 2°F (1.1°C) above your normal temperature is usually a sign of a fever. Call your pediatrician or go to the nearest hospital or clinic to have your baby checked.
- Lost appetite – Another sign that your baby is feeling something unusual is eating less than what they normally do, or worse, don’t want to eat at all. We don’t want our babies missing the nutrition that their growing body needs.
- Less energy – This one particularly needs close observation, if your baby is active most of the time, it could be easy to determine, but if they behave, you might want to monitor how often and long they sleep.
- Catching breath – They are not doing much but is getting out of breath or is breathing faster than usual. This usually comes with having less energy; they get tired easily and need to catch their breath.
What is a cold sore?
Cold sores are a common viral infection, and they are tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around the lips. These blisters are usually grouped in patches. After the blisters break, a scab forms that can last several days. Cold sores usually heal in two to three weeks without leaving a scar. There’s no cure for cold sores, but treatment can help manage outbreaks. Prescribed antiviral pills or creams can help sore heal more quickly, and they may reduce the length and severity of future outbreaks.
Causes and Cure of Cold Sore
Cold sores usually spread through saliva (yes, spit) and skin-to-skin contact. This means that kissing and hugging might be the reason if your baby catches the virus. It can also be passed by touching something that has the virus on it. It’s easiest to pass on the virus when you have a cold sore, but you can sometimes still be contagious even if you don’t have any cold sores. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children will start to get cold sores by age 5. Newborns rarely get cold sores, but when a baby less than 6 months old contracts the cold sore virus, it can have severe effects.
Currently, there is no cure for cold sores. The good news is that they go away on their own. Some may take a little longer than others to heal. Cold sores are typically not treated because the medications currently available only slightly speed up healing time. What you can do is to protect your little one against the cold sores’ spread, help relieve the child’s discomfort during a flare-up, and try to avoid possible triggers.
What to do if your baby gets a cold sore
As parents, we try to do everything in our power to keep our babies healthy and happy; unfortunately, it’s almost impossible most of the time. Once a child is infected with the cold sore virus, it is more likely to return when their immune system runs down, or the skin becomes irritated from other causes.
We can help them stop spreading the cold sore and ease the discomfort when it flares up, and once it’s fully healed, help them avoid possible triggers.
Stop the cold sores from spreading
- Stop scratching – I know that this could almost be impossible for a baby or even toddlers; heck it’s hard even for adults to do this, but it will prevent the spread of the virus to other parts of the body, such as fingers and eyes, as well as to other children who touch toys and other objects they play with. Wash hands and clean toys regularly.
- Stop sharing – Don’t let your child share drinks or utensils, towels, toothpaste, or other items to avoid spreading the infection through saliva. Also, wash items such as towels and linens in hot water after use.
- Start isolating – If you have other kids or if your baby goes to daycare or school, it’s best for everyone to keep your baby at home while waiting for the cold sore to heal and completely dry up. Best for your baby to rest and regain strength, best for everyone else to avoid catching the cold sore virus.
Decrease cold sore discomfort
- Cold compress – Apply ice to the sores to help ease your child’s cold sore pain. Chilled or cold treats such as smoothies may be soothing to tender lips and help avoid dehydration since it will be challenging for your baby to eat.
- Avoid acids – Don’t give your child acidic foods during a cold sore outbreak (e.g., citrus fruits or tomato sauce). These can irritate cold sores, leading to longer healing times; we sure don’t want that.
- Pain reliever – If all your efforts failed and your baby’s sore continues to hurt so much that they can’t eat, call your pediatrician and ask for a pain reliever prescription that will be safe for your little one. This should give your baby some time to sleep, uninterrupted by the discomfort of the sores.
Turn down triggers
- Skin irritation – This can bring on a cold sore outbreak, so be sure your little one uses lotion and a lip balm containing sunscreen or zinc oxide before heading outdoors. It’s also important to always stay hydrated, with or without a cold sore.
- Health check – Make sure your baby gets enough sleep, exercise, and eats a well-balanced diet. Boost your baby’s immune system as this is a common trigger for cold sore to return.
- Lessen stress – Help your child manage stress, which can increase the chance of cold sore outbreaks. This one is a bit tricky because your baby still can’t recognize when they are under stressful situations, so keep it light and easy for the little ones.
To sum it all up, prevention is always better than cure. If you feel sick or feel like you are a virus carrier because someone you talked to is sick, it is best not to kiss, hold, or go near the baby. Cold sore or any other viral infection could be easily transmitted, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. A sick baby is the last thing that we want, our hearts will break each time they cry out of discomfort, and we’ll feel helpless for not making this discomfort go away.
We at 1happykiddo hope that the information above helped you in anyway, feel free to ask us or share your own story in the comment section below.