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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Cold Sores - Brief Version

What are cold sores?

When your child has cold sores, or fever blisters, you can expect to see:

  • a cluster of small, painful bumps or blisters on the outer lip
  • sores on one side of the mouth only
  • tingling or burning on the outer lip at the same place the cold sores were before.

The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. The sores happen the first time after getting it from someone who has herpes. After the first time, the virus lives inside the nerves of the skin. A few people get the cold sores again and again. The cold sores could come back because of things like being tired or having a sunburn or fever.

How can I take care of my child?

Here's what you can do if your child gets cold sores:

  • Get a special antiherpes ointment. Your doctor must prescribe it.
  • Put the ointment on the area as soon as you see any small bumps. This can shorten the time the sores last, if you use it early enough.
  • Your child's ointment is __________________________.
  • Put it on ___ times a day for ___ days.
  • It can help to use a lip balm with sunscreen to prevent flare-ups of cold sores.
  • Don't touch the cold sores. They are contagious to others.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • If there are any sores near the eye.
  • The sores last longer than 2 weeks.
  • You have questions about antiherpes ointments.
  • You have other worries or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems