Herpes in children – signs, symptoms, treatment

You never or never have it. I am one of the mothers whose skin condition shows both the current menstrual status and the physical condition. For example, when, thanks to a weakened immune system, small bubbles form around the mouth that itch uncomfortably and do not look pretty at all. Friends can then start cooking chicken soup and the Start preparing handkerchiefs, because for me herpes is a dead sure sign of an impending cold. My immune system screams loud and clear: help, I’m too weak and give up …

But what is herpes? How do you recognize an infection with the herpes virus and what can you do to quickly treat herpes in particular in children who suffer far more than we adults?

Herpes in children – what is we talking about?

Herpes is the name for a viral infection with a gradual spread of some skin changes all over the body. Almost 95% of people carry the virus, but often there is never an infection. Even if there is an infection, it does not necessarily have to be visible. The disease often runs completely symptom-free and symptom-free after the initial infection.

Causes of herpes in children

A new one is typical for the so-called herpes simplex Outbreak of the herpes virus in the event of stress or fatigue. Also a weakened immune system, for example, due to a previous cold or respiratory disease, can lead to another outbreak.

The germ

Two different pathogens are responsible for a herpes infection: the herpes simplex virus 1 and the herpes simplex virus 2. It is very difficult for laypeople to make a distinction since they are only minimally different from each other in terms of both the clinical picture and the symptoms differ. Affected areas of the first type of infection, HSV-1, include lips and eyes. Genital herpes, on the other hand, can be found in the second group, the HSV-2. Chickenpox and shingles are also herpes diseases.

Contagion and spread

Since herpes can be transmitted from infancy through simple saliva contact or a smear infection, it is often almost impossible to prevent infection within the family. This does not automatically mean that soon all family members will have to deal with the unpleasant skin change. Because, as I said, the pure contagion does not mean an outbreak of the disease, but only the fact that the virus is now present in the body. The majority of the population has already produced natural antibodies against the herpes virus 1, whereas antibodies to HSV-2 are rarely present. Understandable, since very few people come into contact with this type of virus. This infection is transmitted through close contact with the mucous membrane, such as sexual intercourse. What seems far-fetched to children is still possible. Namely, when genital herpes is transmitted from an infected mother to the baby at birth.

Disease forms and their symptoms

There are three different forms in which a herpes infection can occur:

  • Cold sores / nasal herpes
  • ocular herpes
  • Genital herpes (genital herpes)

Cold sores

In cold sores, small blisters usually form on the corner of the mouth or on the lip itself, which are also referred to as “cold sores”. In children, spreading to the gums and within the entire mouth is also possible. The latter symptoms are known as “mouth rot”. If blisters also appear on the palms of the feet and hands, it could also be the hand-foot-mouth disease.

Typical symptoms that a child shows before or during the appearance of a cold sore are:

  • sore mouth
  • swollen palate
  • fever
  • Itching of the affected area (scratching should be avoided!)
  • swollen lymph glands on the neck

A few days after the first vesicles break out, they crust and slowly heal. The whole procedure can take up to ten days, in which the child clearly feels uncomfortable and may lose the desire to eat and drink.
Treatment is not really necessary here, since the infection and its symptoms subside by themselves. Nevertheless, there are numerous ways to accelerate healing, or to make the symptoms more bearable.

ocular herpes

Herpes can manifest itself through reddened eyes and the feeling of a foreign body in the eye. The infection usually spreads through the eyelids and can therefore cause crusty and mucous eyes in the morning, which in any case are one of the clearest signs of an infection. This form of herpes should definitely be treated, otherwise it will spread to the cornea of ​​the eye and later leave scars there.

genital herpes

Genital herpes is usually very uncommon in babies and children. In rare cases, however, as mentioned, an infection can already occur in newborns. This is the case if the mother had an acute infection at birth. As a rule, however, the gynecologist will arrange for a planned caesarean section beforehand, insofar as the virus was found in the mother before birth.

Treatment of herpes in children

As mentioned, treatment is not absolutely necessary. The burst herpes blisters crust and then heal on their own. However, this process is relatively lengthy and particularly uncomfortable due to the itching. Various home remedies can help make itching more bearable and accelerate healing. The own Child is however, not a guinea pig, so the use of planned home remedies is best discussed with the pediatrician.

Fast healing by applying different substances

  • toothpaste
    This very widespread tip should be enjoyed with caution. Though wearing the zinc-containing paste actually helps the cold sore to dry out quickly, but this is exactly what has its disadvantages. If the affected skin dries too quickly, cracks and small wounds quickly develop, which in turn form the ideal breeding ground for renewed infection.
  • Antiviral drugs
    Many doctors prescribe various ointments for children with herpes, such as acyclovir, which can be found in Zovirax, for example. However, the components of these rather expensive ointments only really show their effects if the blisters have not yet broken out, i.e. if the herpes has mostly not been noticed in the children. So it is questionable whether investing in a drug is worthwhile. With very severe herpes in the mouth, eczema due to the virus or infants, however, they are often unavoidable.
  • Zinc and tannins
    Itching in particular is uncomfortable for children with herpes. Various creams containing zinc or tannins, such as the Tannosynth® cream, can provide relief here.
  • balm
    If you want to use herbal remedies, it is good to trust the lemon balm. In the form of a tincture, it can be applied to herpes in children. It too is basically based on the way the tannins work.
  • honey
    Honey (best Manuka honey) is particularly useful in the treatment of herpes in children, because unlike obvious medicine, it is often accepted by the little ones. Once the herpes has been noticed, a thin layer of honey can be applied. It has an antimicrobial effect, thus preventing the virus from spreading.
  • Tea tree oil
    Tea tree oil works in a similar way to honey. Tea tree oil is, however, much better known and is also often used to treat blemished skin and acne. However, it is not particularly popular for direct use on the lip due to its rather unpleasant taste. Affected areas on the mucous membranes of the nose or on the lip edge can be treated well.
  • Garlic and cloves
    In addition to conventional medicine, there are numerous plants and herbs that are said to have a healing effect. These two should also have a healing effect on the herpes.

Homeopathy for herpes in children

Rhus toxicodendron or Sulfur are probably the best known homeopathic remedies for herpes. But Natrum muriaticum can also help relieve herpes. Guidelines for homeopathy in children or going to doctors who specialize in homeopathy help, for example, in the event of uncertainty.

reduce pain

Herpes in the mouth area is particularly uncomfortable for children. You often don’t want to eat anymore. To ensure that the child drinks and eats enough, you should offer him drinks with a straw and often offer cool dishes. In the case of infections, cooling the affected areas is particularly pain-relieving. Avoid spicy and sour food.

Avoid contagion

In order to ensure that others do not become infected with herpes, children should wash their hands regularly, avoid close physical contact (kissing, etc.) and make sure that objects such as glasses do not get into the hands of other children. For example, drinking bottles should be given the name in kindergarten, for example. There are numerous nice ways to design your own labels online.

In the case of herpes in children, it is important to prevent infection. That means, but not only to prevent that other people (family members or friends) get infected, but also that the child itself does not spread the virus on its own skin. With herpes, children should take special care not to look into their eyes after contact with, for example, herpes in the mouth to prevent spreading.


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Christina Cherry
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