Most of us have experienced pain and illness at different stages of our lives. When you are a child you experience pain, illness and symptoms of a disease with more sensitivity than you do when you have reached adulthood.
Over time, you learn that pain from a cold sore is not permanent and as one’s pain threshold becomes higher as you grow older. However, the symptoms that appear with a herpes outbreak are still associated with great discomfort – even though we know that they will disappear again.
In this article we focus on children and cold sores. You can read more about how to prevent an infection of the sore and find answers to the most common questions regarding herpes in children. And we offer our best advice regarding the treatment of cold sores – both for children and adults.
Why do children get herpes?
Whether they occur in children or adults, cold sores are a symptom of Herpes Simplex Virus, also abbreviated HSV. Children get herpes in the same way as adults. They get infected through direct physical contact, for example kissing or touching. The only exception is the transmission of the herpes virus from mother to child in connection with pregnancy.
There are two types of herpes virus, namely HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is the variant that most often causes sores on the lip and in the oral cavity.
HSV-2 affects the mucous membranes and skin around the genitals. HSV-2 infection can be transmitted from mother to child if the mother has an outbreak of herpes when she is giving birth. If the mother often has outbreaks of herpes 2, this is followed closely by the doctor and/or midwife and it is considered whether a caesarean section will be planned or antiviral medication given to the mother in the last period leading up to the birth. The risk of infection is small, but very serious and potentially life-threatening for the newborn.
Children are most often infected with HSV-1 and will typically show symptoms of infection in the form of cold sores up to the age of five. Between a fifth and a third of all children have developed antibodies against HSV-1 – and this figure rises to forty percent when the children become teenagers.
Herpes simplex is quite common in children and young people. Read on to get answers to your questions about herpes in children.
Is herpes dangerous for children?
Cold sores caused by the HVS-1 virus are basically a harmless condition, both for children and adults. However, children can react more violently to the infection than adults, for example with fever and a more severe reaction of the skin.
However, there is no reason to be particularly concerned about the child’s health in connection with a herpes outbreak. But do keep an eye on whether the child is eating and drinking properly. Herpes in the mouth can cause pain and it hurts to eat or drink.
A cold sore on the lip or in the mouth heals on its own within 7 to 10 days. It is important that you help the child not to touch the cold sore, as this contributes to spreading the infection and prolonging the duration of the outbreak. It is a good idea to put some gel and afterwards a plaster on the sore.
Finally, it is important that you help your child to maintain good hand hygiene all the time during an outbreak of herpes. You can transfer the Herpes Simplex virus/HSV-1 to the mucous membranes around the genitals. It is therefore very important that the child washes his hands both before and after going to the toilet if he/she has an outbreak of herpes.
You should contact the doctor if the child shows signs of dehydration, if they develop a fever or if a bacterial infection occurs. And you should also seek help if the sore/wound has not healed on its own within 7 to 10 days.
How to treat herpes in children?
Children with symptoms of Herpes Simplex in an outbreak can be treated with the same topical medications as adults. This means that you can use cream, gel or ointment, which are available over the counter and at the pharmacy, to treat cold sores in children.
It is not recommended to use internal remedies of prescription medicine in tablet form, for children. Not unless the child has a weak immune system or the child suffers from other diseases. The doctor will know the possible medical treatments that is best for your child.
You must pay attention to how your child is doing, when he/she develops painful cold sores so you can help to relieve the symptoms in the best possible way. You can use QUR Herpes Gel without any problems to relieve the pain and minimize the period of duration. QUR Herpes Gel has a documented effect on the herpes virus. It is CE marked and registered by the Danish Medicines Agency as an electro-medicine. QUR Herpes Gel works purely mechanically via positive ions. Herpesviruses have a surface which consists of a lipid membrane which is negatively charged. QUR Herpes Gel has an ingredient called bentonite, which is a clay mineral that consists of lots of tiny clay plates. The surface of each individual clay plate is covered with 6 positive ions. These positive ions attract the negative herpes virus, which is thereby neutralized and cannot multiply. The fenugreek seed extract, which is a well-known anti-inflammatory ingredient, soothes and heals the skin and minimizes the risk of inflammation.
QUR Herpes Gel is produced without the use of problematic chemistry such as parabens, perfumes or dyes. The product is very clean and can be used by everyone – children as well as adults.
Apply QUR Herpes Gel to the cold sore as soon as you can feel an outbreak emerging and stop the treatment when the sore becomes crusted. The gel has a soothing and moisturizing effect and is almost transparent so it cannot be seen. Tree-quarters of all herpes patients will statistically experience a halving of both the nuisance of the outbreak and its duration.
Can young children get cold sores?
Children are usually infected before they reach the age of 5 and the infection manifests itself in the form of sores in or around the mouth.
Herpes 1 is common in children and can cause many problems. You may find that the child does not want to eat, drink or have their teeth brushed because the mouth hurts too much.
Herpes 1/Oral herpes is a harmless but painful, condition and you can give light painkillers according to the doctor’s instructions.
To ensure that the child gets enough to drink, you can offer him/her an iced soda. It soothes the pain and at the same time gives the child both fluid and electrolytes.
Can I infect my child with herpes?
Yes – you can infect your child with herpes, even if you don’t have a cold sore. In fact, the largest part of infection with herpes in children occurs via kissing and being in the presence of a parent, who has herpes. Herpes Simplex virus can be contagious also when the adult do not have the herpes disease in an outbreak.
This means that you can infect your child if you kiss the child shortly before experiencing the first symptoms of an outbreak. The virus may well be active on your skin even before you start to feel the symptoms. All you actually can do is to be aware and have a high standard of hygiene.
You should not refrain from either kissing or hugging when you do not have symptoms. Although it is not nice to have herpes, it is not advisable to avoid love, kisses and hugs for fear of infection. Only when you have symptoms you must take precautions and avoid kissing and hugging. Find out more about herpes on our blog.