A cold sore comes as an effect of HSV or the “Herpes Simplex Virus.”
Cold sores are quite common, infecting a number of children even before they are 5 years of age. As a matter of fact, a baby can contract this virus at some stage of vaginal labor, should the mother have an infection. It can also be contracted when one is exposed to the infectious fluids coming from someone who has oral herpes, although one can handle a baby even with a cold sore, as long as caution is practiced.
It is a bit difficult to accurately say when the virus is transmissible or when a person can infect someone else. A lot of people are not even aware that they have it. Nevertheless, a cold sore can be more contagious if it has not been completely healed. Here is more information on cold sores from the Mayo Clinic.
Can I Give My Baby a Cold Sore? Answer: Yes.
Since it is highly likely that a cold sore can infect a baby when not totally healed, it is important to know how to recognize it. An unhealed cold sore is manifested when it is red in color and appears as a bump that is a bit painful. It could also have a new scab that could be a sign of an active virus. The non-existence of symptoms may still have the probability of being contagious. A person with an unhealed cold sore can transfer it to a baby through saliva, the most common way it is transmitted.
Saliva and Contagious Fluids
When a baby is exposed to the saliva of a person infected with cold sores, the virus could infect them when it penetrates through his bloodstream. It could also enter a baby’s mucus membranes. Babies tend to put either their hands or other objects into their mouths. An infected person’s saliva or other fluids that come from a cold sore may contaminate a baby as soon as it makes its way into their mouth, their eyes, or their nasal passages.
How Cold Sores are Transmitted
There are several ways that cold sores are transmitted to a baby. Oftentimes, simply kissing the child can pass on the virus. Other ways are through sneezing and coughing while holding a baby. Sharing utensils is an easy way to transmit the virus. The risk of contagion from an infected person is much higher when holding a child, as saliva need not travel a great distance to get to the baby and pass on the virus to them.
Although caution can be practiced while handling a baby when one is infected, it is still best to keep close contact to a child to the minimum. This will lessen the risk of transferring the virus. However, if it cannot be avoided, there are certain precautions one must take to keep the saliva and other contagious fluids from getting to the child. Avoid kissing as much as possible.
Also make sure that the baby does not touch the mouth of the person with the infection as this could lead to oral herpes. Make sure that hands are always clean and washed carefully with soap each time the baby must be handled and tended to. It is not a good idea to cover cold sores lengthily as this could keep it from healing much faster than when it is exposed.
Nevertheless, it would be best to cover it even for awhile, particularly when it oozes, should one be holding a baby. This would lessen the danger of passing on the virus to the child. Keep from sharing personal items with a baby, including utensils, cups and glasses, towels, etc. By taking these measures, the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby is significantly decreased.
If You See Signs
Should a baby show signs of having cold sores, they must be brought to a doctor who will best be able to recommend treatment for the child. Avoid using adult medication for babies. A pediatrician would know exactly what type of medication is best suited for the baby.
Babies are susceptible to various types of viruses so it is always best to take precautions when one is infected. Cold sores are easily transmitted, which is why extra care is needed when handling a baby. Should you feel that you may indeed be infected by the virus, follow precautionary measures to keep your baby safe.