As an expectant parent eagerly awaiting the birth of your new baby, you are probably taking a number of steps to ensure your baby’s health. One step many experts recommend is that you become informed about herpes simplex virus (HSV). This common virus is usually a mild infection in adults. But in infants, HSV can cause a rare, but serious, illness.
Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are those small sores which usually appear on and above the upper lip. They are very common, easily spread and caused by the herpes. The virus tends to remain dormant in the nerve cells until the immune system is weakened and then flares up. Young children have a less developed immune system.
It can be caught through physical contact, such as kissing or even breastfeeding.
While most adults carry the virus without any health risks, it can be fatal for babies because of their poor immunity.
You should try and protect your small children from picking up the cold sore virus in the first place. But as anyone with young children knows, this can be very difficult. It is just as easy for the virus to spread within the family unit itself. If you fear that skin contact has been made with another child or adult with a cold sore, then make sure to wash areas touched by the infected skin immediately. Lather up with plenty of mild soap and water.
HSV (herpes virus) can cause neonatal herpes (babies up to 28 days old, infected by herpes), a rare but life-threatening disease. Neonatal herpes can cause eye or throat infections, damage to the central nervous system, mental retardation, or death. Medication may help prevent or reduce lasting damage if it is given early.
Protect your baby and child from cold sore by following a few preventive steps:
- Keep your child’s lips moisturized with a protective lip balm. HSV can only infect the body if there is an opening in the skin such as a cut, scratch or crack. Look at lip balms with at least an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 to protect the lips from the sun as too much sun can dry out lips making them more prone to splits or cracks. Classified as a medical device, The Herpatch prevention stick is a moisturising balm with a high level of SPF (SPF30). As well as hydrating your lips and the one of your child (can be used from 4 years old), it has been developed with Zinc, Aloe Vera and other skin protectants, which will help to prevent recurrent Herpes labialis.
- Wash and/or sanitise you and your baby hands. Make sure if a child around yours have a cold sore to keep your child at home and clean and disinfect all his/her toys and play area.
- A toothbrush can harbor the herpes virus for days, re-infecting the sufferer after the current cold sore heals, so throw the toothbrush away. During an outbreak your toothbrush should be replaced at the beginning, again after the blister develops and then once again after the sore has completely healed.
If you have a cold sore:
- Don’t stop breast-feeding. However, don’t kiss your baby, especially near the mouth or eyes, while you have an active sore as this may pass the infection on to your baby.
- Avoid kissing your child, especially if he’s a newborn, until the cold sore goes away. If your child is an infant, consider wearing a surgical mask to cover the sore as well.
- Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils.
- Use Herpatch Serum + (£7.99, available in Boots and Boots.com)! It treats every stage of the cold sore from tingling to healing. The serum is activated on application, the clever white serum forms a thin, transparent film over the cold sore lesion to protect and isolate the affected skin, simultaneously helping to prevent the spread of the virus and accelerate the healing process. Herpatch contains red seaweed which helps turn the liquid gel into a patch. It dries instantly to form a protective shield over the cold sore, so it is fine to put make-up over the top and it won’t look shiny or wet.
In clinical trials 60 per cent of the subjects that used Herpatch serum+ reported that the cold sore was already in the healing stages after only the second day of treatment .