Also known as fever blisters, cold sores are painful blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and occur on the lips, tongue, or face and roof of the mouth. HSV causes fever blisters in 20 percent of all children by the age of five, according to the Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service website. The blisters recur from time to time in most persons, and usually heal and disappear within seven to 10 days. While there is no cure for cold sores, there are remedies to help shorten the healing time and provide some symptom relief.
Children who begin to experience an itchy or tingly sensation around the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth or face should notify their parents immediately. These are the first signs of a cold sore, and an ice cube wrapped in a washcloth and pressed to the area for five minutes every half hour can provide relief. According to Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service, some people report that this remedy can also help decrease the size of the blister as well as its duration.
Antiviral creams or lotion applied during the early stages of a cold sore can help keep it small in size, and may even help it heal more quickly. According to Dental Resource.org, antiviral creams block virus reproduction, and have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to treat herpes. Common prescription creams include penciclovir and acyclovir, also known as Denavir and Zovirax, respectively.
Parents should keep in mind that while penciclovir, denavir and Zovirax cream, are safe for adolescents, they should not be used in children younger than 12, according to Drugs.com. Acyclovir, on the other hand, is safe for even young babies infected with HSV.
Docosanol, the active ingredient in the over-the-counter ointment Abreva, is designed for the treatment of cold sores. Docosanol can shorten cold sore healing time and provide relief from the itching and tingling that accompany it, according to the Dental Professional website. Abreva works to change the cell membrane around healthy skin cells, allowing them to serve as a protective barrier so the virus cannot enter the cell and develop into a cold sore. For best results, parents should apply as early as possible.
Some children find cold sores extremely painful. If this is the case, parents can administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with pain management, according to KidsHealth.org.