What to Put on a Baby's Cold Sore

Although it's not likely for a baby to get a cold sore, it does happen. Knowing how to properly treat a cold sore will shorten the amount of time you and your baby have to deal with it.

What is a Cold Sore?

A cold sore, sometimes referred to as a fever blister, is a small, fluid-filled blister that forms on or around the lips. They may show up alone, or in small clusters.

Many people assume cold sores are associated with the common cold, but they are not. Cold sores are a result of the herpes simplex type 1 virus (different from genital herpes, which is type 2). A baby can get the virus from the bodily fluids of another person who is infected, or during birth if the mother is affected.

How Long Will a Cold Sore Last?

The cold sore should go away in 7 to 10 days, but once a person contracts the virus, he will have it for his whole life. It may remain dormant, and never show symptoms again, or it may crop up from time to time during his life, causing cold sores. Typical causes of recurring cold sores are over exposure to the sun, a fever or stress.

To prevent a cold sore, keep anyone with a visible cold sore from kissing the baby or sharing cups or eating utensils. Also, limit your baby's sun exposure if she has been infected previously.

How to Treat a Baby's Cold Sores

It's not likely for newborns to get a cold sore because of antibodies they have built up. So, if your baby is under 6 months, it's important to call the pediatrician right away to avoid further problems such as damage to the brain or other organs. It's also important to keep a baby with a cold sore from touching his eyes too much to avoid a serious condition known as ocular herpes.

A cold sore will go away in its own time. But, there are some ways to relieve the pain. A good home remedy is to apply ice. Do so only for short time periods to avoid frostbite. You also can offer cool drinks or foods, though most young babies will not want to take them.

For babies over 6 months old, you also can administer a pain reliever such as baby acetaminophen or baby ibuprofen. Carefully follow the dosage instructions on the package, and never give a baby aspirin due to the risk of Reye's Syndrome.