Why a Common Cold Sore Could Be Deadly For Your Baby

Out of the blue, there’s a tingle on your lip. That usually means one thing. A cold sore. They are the worst, right? They always appear at the most inopportune time and seem to take forever to go away.

It’s not always as easy to keep kids and animals away from your face when you have a cold sore. But it’s essential to do so, especially for babies.

What is a cold sore?

Also known as ‘fever blisters’ or oral herpes, cold sores are a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). They present as sores and fluid-filled blisters around the mouth and nose.

It’s estimated almost 70% of people on the planet have HSV-1. Once you get the virus, it stays dormant in your system for the rest of your life. Some people don’t show any symptoms, and some are prone to frequent cold sores.

Cold sores usually clear up on their own after about two weeks (faster with some treatments). They are spread by skin-to-skin contact, kissing, sharing cutlery and other eating utensils, straws, towels, and toothbrushes. Performing or receiving oral sex from someone with a cold sore can result in herpes simplex virus 2, otherwise known as genital herpes.

See our comprehensive guide on how to stop a cold sore in its tracks – the best remedies and what doesn’t work!

Cold sores are contagious from the moment you feel that telltale tingle until the scar completely disappears.

Let that tell tale tingle and burning sensation be your warning of a cold sore coming on.
Let that telltale tingle and burning sensation be your warning. Source: Bigstock

How is a cold sore dangerous for your baby?

For babies, children, pregnant people and people with weakened immune systems, the HSV-1 from cold sores can cause severe illness, extreme blistering and can even lead to death.

The NHS reports that nearly a third of infants in the UK with this type of neonatal herpes will die, even after they’ve been treated.

Two real-life examples of an innocent kiss with tragic results

Mallory Gober was less than a month old when she died from the herpes simplex virus. She was infected with the virus at only a week old, and over the next painstakingly tough two weeks, her parents, Jeff and Natasha, had to watch her health decline slowly from the virus until she passed away. READ HER FULL STORY HERE.

Baby Mallory Gobin died from a cold sore virus
Baby Mallory Gober died from a cold sore virus. Source: Facebook

Two-year-old Sienna Duffield managed a lucky escape, but not without suffering from a horrible rash and blistering on her face. Forming just after her second birthday, the gruesome and itchy rash stopped her from eating. It was eight months before her parents realised she had been infected by HSV-1 from a relative’s innocent kiss on her birthday. READ HER FULL STORY HERE.

Young girl with herpes virus on her face from cold sore
Poor Sienna was covered in the herpes virus after kissing a relative. Source: Facebook

Could it be a cold sore? Symptoms to look for on your baby or child

Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) can cause many different symptoms in young babies, from blistering to encephalitis, so seek medical attention immediately if you discover anything out of the ordinary, including:

  • Lethargy ( your baby seems listless and/or ‘floppy’)
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • High-pitched crying
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Not feeding
  • Bluish mouth or tongue
  • Blisters and rashes

How can you keep your baby safe from HSV-1?

You can’t avoid being near your baby if you have a cold sore, especially if you are breastfeeding. Invest in some cold sore patches, keep your hands clean, and immediately wash the area with soapy water if they do accidentally come in contact. Do not kiss your baby until the cold sore has completely disappeared — we know this is hard, but it’s critical.

For visitors and family, set ground rules and stick to them. Get them to wash their hands and even sanitise if possible. Do not let them kiss your baby. You can even ask visitors not to hold your baby if they’ve had a cold sore recently.

Can a cold sore be prevented?

Yes and no. For the many people living with HSV-1 who do get cold sores, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce this, but they can appear if triggered.

Common triggers of a cold sore outbreak include:

  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Exposure to cold wind or hot sunlight
  • Minor colds or other illnesses
  • Hormonal changes like menstruation

Some preventative measures include:

  • Taking Lysine daily
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Eating healthy, including lean proteins, omega-3s, zinc, probiotics, and vitamin B
  • Maintain a good sleep schedule to avoid being run down
  • Using moisturiser and lip balm when going outside
  • Keeping stress levels down through exercise or meditation

Cold sores, for those with HSV-1, are sometimes unavoidable. But knowing how to care for yourself and keep your baby, pets and other immune-compromised people safe are significant first steps to keeping the virus contained.

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Avatar of Tina Evans

Tina Evans is a complete introvert, an avid reader of romance novels, horror novels and psychological thrillers. She’s a writer, movie viewer, and manager of the house menagerie: three kelpies, one cat, a fish, and a snake. She loves baking and cooking and using her kids as guinea pigs. She was a teenage parent and has learned a lot in twenty-three years of parenting. Tina loves Christmas and would love to experience a white Christmas once in her life. Aside from writing romance novels, she is passionate about feminism, equality, sci-fi, action movies and doing her part to help the planet.

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