Fever blisters -- cold sores -- on a 2-year-old child aren't uncommon. Young children are particularly susceptible to the virus that causes these painful lesions. There's no cure for the virus that causes fever blisters; however, there are oral and topical medications that can relieve your child's discomfort.
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Cause of Fever Blisters
An innocent kiss can infect your toddler with the herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1, which causes fever blisters. This virus passes through the saliva of the person with HSV-1 and enters your child's body through small cracks in the skin. Small children may also contract the virus from contaminated utensils and toys.
The first primary eruption in young children may be characterized by herpetic gingivostomatitis. Your 2-year-old may have blisters on her tongue and the roof of her mouth. Bright red gums and fever are also signs of herpetic gingivostomatitis. Herpes labialis — the classic fever blister — is characterized by painful, watery blisters around the mouth and sometimes other parts of the face.
There's no way to eradicate the virus that causes your 2-year-old's fever blister; however, her pediatrician may prescribe prescription drugs such as oral acyclovir and valacyclovir, or penciclovir cream to reduce symptoms and speed up healing time. Oral medications are most successful when administered 24 hours after your child first develops symptoms. Oral medications are typically used when the HSV-1 infection is particularly severe, if your child has a weakened immune system, or if a child is under the age of 6 months. One over-the-counter treatment that might speed up healing is docosanol cream.
The best thing you can do for your toddler's fever blister is to keep it clean and dry. Warm or cold compresses can ease your child's discomfort. Discourage your child from picking at the blisters so the site won't become infected. Wash her hands frequently. Make sure that other children and adults don't share eating utensils, washcloths or anything that comes into contact with your toddler's mouth. Discourage your infected child from kissing others, including siblings and playmates. It can take up to 2 weeks for lesions to completely heal.
Fever blisters can come back from time to time. Triggers that may stir the HSV-1 virus out of dormancy include exposure to the sun, fever, and illness. Be mindful that this infection can spread to other parts of the face, including the eyes, in which case you should take your child to the doctor immediately. If the virus infects the eyes, this may cause serious complications, including blindness.