Cold sores seem to pop up at the worst times…and they hurt! Parents often wonder why their child keeps getting cold sores, or fever blisters, and how to prevent them. Well, the sad truth is that cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and once a child, or adult, contracts the virus it stays in their system for life. HSV-1 is a very common, highly contagious virus that is often contracted by children before the age of 5. The virus is spread through direct skin contact, such as a kiss, or even by sharing a cup, utensil or water bottle with someone who has the virus.

And kids share everything!

Flare-ups aren’t necessarily linked to having a cold. Other infections, fever, stress, sunlight (Texas has LOTS of sun), hormone changes, cold weather and foods can bring on a cold sore flare.

The Good News is that creams and prescription medications can help shorten the length of an outbreak and make the sore less painful.

Helpful tips to provide relief:

  • Hands off! Touching will irritate and spread the virus
  • Ice! Apply ice wrapped in a towel to the sore
  • Aloe! Apply aloe vera gel
  • Balm! Apply lip balm containing 1% lemon balm
  • Sunscreen! Apply sunscreen to lips when in sun (can also help prevent future outbreaks caused by sun exposure)
  • Pain Relief! Take over-the-counter pain reliever or apply a cream with lidocaine or benzocaine for pain relief

For those who haven’t contracted HSV-1 prevention is the key!  For those who have the virus – preventing outbreaks and soothing a current cold sore is key to providing relief for your child.

Dr. Anas Hakimeh