It can be frustrating living with cold sores and it can be even worse when you're a kid. Children often get upset when a cold sore starts developing on their lip, as the experience can be very unpleasant and embarrassing. That's your cue to change a few things concerning your child's health.
Read Up On Cold Sores
The first thing you need to be aware of, if you're not already, is that there is no currently known cure for the herpes virus which is the culprit behind cold sores. The more reliable sources will not promise you one, nor will they suggest anything out of the norm. The best resources on the herpes virus include the Mayo Clinic and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). WebMD (website) is also filled with useful articles and information that can be linked to peer reviewed journal articles. Your physician may have brochures on cold sores available as well. Much of the reliable information you will be able to find can help you toward an easy strategy for home treatments.
What to Think About
Before you panic and think that nothing can be done for your child's cold sores, consider for a moment what the constant appearance of cold sores actually means. Yes, it's an obvious sign that they have the herpes virus, but it also means that there's a lifestyle change in order. When the diet isn't right and their immune system isn't working efficiently, the herpes virus has more room to wreak havoc.
Here are a few things that you can do to help prevent that:
1. Tips and Advice for Cold Sore Prevention: No Contact
What this means is that when a cold sore starts showing, the only thing that should touch that area is a topical treatment. Your child might be compelled to touch the area with their hands due to the discomfort of a cold sore, so it's good to continuously remind them of this hazard. Hands have bacteria, which can make the cold sore worse and touching the area puts others at risk of accidently catching the virus (mouth-hand-friend contact). The herpes virus can also get into the eyes, which makes touching a cold sore (and then touching the eyes) a bad idea.
2. Kisses Are Best Saved For Later
The same issues with touching the area apply to kissing the affected area. You can both worsen the cold sore and transfer the herpes virus more easily because people tend to have unknown cuts or tears in the mouth area.
3. Change Out Their Toothbrush
This might seem like an unusual and expensive tip, but you'll be glad that you did it in the end. Toothbrushes can harbor bacteria for a long time, which can be bad for a cold sore. As soon as a cold sore shows up, throw out your child's toothbrush and use a new one until the sore is healed up. You should not use that toothbrush passed the cold sore episode.
4. Let Them Be a Little Carnivorous
If your family includes meat in your meals, it's a good idea to give your child a good helping of it along with their greens. Many proteins such as chicken, fish, beef and other meats contain what scientists have called lysine. Including this in the diet can help slow the herpes virus.
5. Nuts Are Bad News
While you're upping your child's meat intake, also lower the amount of nuts they eat or cut it out of the diet entirely. Studies suggest that the amino acid in nuts known as arginine can activate the herpes virus. But, when the amounts are low and lysine is higher, this can actually be beneficial.
6. Eliminate Sugar
Sugar is, in general, unhealthy for anyone who consumes large amounts. Many of us have more sugar in our diets than we realize, especially kids. Their favorite juices and snacks are packed full with it, so take some precautions. Children with the herpes virus can be at risk of reactivating it when they eat too much sugar. Keep the sugary snacks out of your home and teach your kid to make healthy choices when they are at school or with friends.
7. Fill In the Gaps with Supplements
It's a simple fact that we don't get enough vitamins and minerals in today's diet. People can struggle for years trying to get the right balance of all the necessary nutrients, so we suggest supplements. They can make up for whatever you're child may be missing in their daily meals. Choose quality multivitamins and minerals for them to take every morning or evening.
Teaching Your Kid about Treating a Cold Sore
Even having a healthy lifestyle and diet can't keep the cold sores away forever. Things happen, so make sure you're prepared. Better yet, make sure your child learns to be prepared and what to do. Any easy step towards this is to make up a cold sore kit. It can be relatively simple as all you need is some rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and something sterile, like cotton balls or q-tips, for application. Put them in an easy to find spot in the bathroom, label it and make sure your child knows their purpose. Show him or her how to use them and by the time they are old enough, around eight, they will be able to do it on their own.
Follow this tip and the others above, and your child can achieve a better life with less bothersome cold sores.
Carrie Shannon is the publisher of YourColdSoreRemedies.com, a website devoted to providing information on effective and safe cold sore remedies. She currently lives with her very supportive and loving husband, Dave, and their two adorable Yorkies, Oscar and Maggie, in Hermosa Beach, California. In her leisure time you can find Carrie walking her dogs on the beach, doing Bikram Yoga, as well as developing her cold sore home remedies website.
DrMomma Note: As unpopular as a few find this suggestion to be, we urge parents to NOT let others kiss their babies or young children on the lips. One of the primary ways young people end up with herpes (causing 'cold sores') is being kissed as an infant by a well-meaning relative who gave them the virus. In fact, the CDC reports that 60% of those who get the herpes virus, contracted it before the age of 10 - and this is almost exclusively from being kissed by a loving relative. This is not fair to the child, who never 'asked' to be kissed and infected, and because we advocate for the conscious protection of our children and their bodily autonomy, we encourage you to implement a "no kissing on the lips" policy for your friends and relatives. It is not enough to merely state that others cannot kiss on the lips when sores are present, because herpes can and is transmitted from infected person to herpes-free person (via the mouth/lips/eyes/skin/genitals) even when sores are not present. When your child is old enough to make the decision for him/herself (who they allow to kiss on the lips, and the potential consequences of doing so), then it may be the right time to drop the policy and discuss the subject further. But in infancy, protect your babies. They only have this one shot at babyhood/early childhood and do not need to be encumbered by the sore and embarrassing herpes virus. There are many soft and cuddly places to kiss babies -- it does not need to be on the lips!
"Genital herpes" (HSV-2) can and does impact both the mouth and genitals. It can also infect the eyes, tongue, fingers, feet, anus, forehead, cheeks and other parts of the body. Some cases of herpes found on the mouth (and transmitted to babies via kissing) are HSV-2. If an adult has a visible sore, it is best that they not kiss your baby anywhere as the 'genital herpes' virus will pop up anyplace on the body that is kissed if the conditions are right.
"Oral herpes" (HSV-1) most often impacts the mouth, lips, gums and throat only, although it can be transferred to the genitals as well. HSV-1 is responsible for the majority of "cold sores" but also causes sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing -- all side effects of the herpes virus that babies are better off without. HSV-1 can be transferred via shared items like straws, utensils, sippy cups, teething toys, glasses and even washcloths used on the lips/face. It is a good idea not to share mouthed items between babies and others, and to teach your children not to swap things that touch their mouth. If you (as a parent) know you have herpes, make efforts not to share items from your mouth with your baby/young child, especially when you have a sore present. Although it is rare, there are life-threatening cases of HSV-1 among newborns and babies already suffering from eczema (which increases exposure and contraction of the virus).