Q: My son keeps getting cold sores. How can I help to prevent them?
A: Your child is not alone. According to one source, 62 per cent of Americans will be infected with herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) by the time they reach adolescence. In some cases, children can contract the virus through toy sharing at their daycare facilities.
HSV-1 cold sores usually disappear within a week. No medication can make the infection disappear, but some treatments can shorten outbreak duration and reduce pain. Frozen treats and iced drinks – as well as acetaminophen – can help here. Aspirin should not be administered to children with viral infections such as HSV-1.
Though your child is already infected with HSV-1, you can help prevent cold sore recurrence. Ensure your child eats well and gets sufficient rest. Learn to help your child cope with stress. Proper sunscreen application is important too – especially SPF-rated lip sun blocks.
Your son should use separate dishes and utensils. Tell him that he shouldn’t kiss anyone until his cold sore has healed. Eyes and genitals are vulnerable to HSV-1 infection, so encourage him to wash his hands both before and after going to the bathroom, and before touching his eyes. You should also wash your own hands frequently to avoid contracting the virus or spreading it to others.
Please consult your son’s doctor since he keeps getting cold sores. Also see your child’s doctor if there are cold sores near his eyes, if the sores don’t heal within 10 days, or if your child has any other health condition that has weakened his immune system.