Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1). The virus can remain dormant in the body for long periods of time and, once the virus enters the body, it remains there permanently. Outbreaks often occur with a fever or during periods of high stress and usually present in the form of puss pockets or blisters around the mouth and nose, especially on children and babies. Parents can treat a cold sore on a baby by relieving the pain and itching that occurs. Over-the-counter (OTC), prescription and home remedies can all help relieve a baby’s cold sore.
Cold sore outbreaks usually run their course in seven to 10 days without treatment; however, the burning and itching can be relieved before then. OTC cold sore treatment options are available for relieving the symptoms associated with a cold sore on a baby. Ointments and creams designed to reduce itching, antibiotic or antiseptic ointments, and those with astringent properties are helpful. Acetaminophen taken orally also is helpful for preventing pain and discomfort. Parents choosing over-the-counter remedies should check the label to ensure the medicine is safe and appropriate for treating a cold sore on a baby and follow the recommended dosage and instructions.
Prescription cold sore treatment, usually given for more severe or frequent cold sore outbreaks, is another option. The most common prescription treatments are Xylocaine® and Zovirax®. Xylocaine® is a topical anesthetic that can be applied to cold sores on the mouth, but it is potentially toxic in large amounts. Zovirax®, also known as acyclovir, is an antibiotic or antiviral medication commonly used to treat cold sores. It comes in ointment, liquid or capsule form and is most effective when it is used at the beginning of an outbreak.
Natural and home remedies for cold sores can be a safe and effective alternative for treating a cold sore on a baby. Garlic has natural antiviral properties and vitamin E is anti-inflammatory; both are helpful in relieving cold sore symptoms. Lemon balm helps to minimize outbreaks and can be brewed into a tea and applied topically or given in small amounts internally. Aloe vera creams and calendula creams can help relieve itching and burning. Before treating a cold sore on a baby, parents should check with their pediatrician or health care provider for appropriate options, especially if the baby has allergies or other conditions.