Fever blisters go by other names, including cold sores and — more ominously still — oral herpes. The discomfort and embarrassment your child experiences when she has a fever blister won’t last long if the sores are tended to properly. Most fever blisters resolve on their own in about a week. They’ll go away faster, however, if your child uses good hygiene and simple self-care strategies.
Fever Blister Cause
Fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1, a highly contagious virus that’s passed from one person to another. According to the American Social Health Association (ASHA), it’s fairly common for children to be infected with HSV-1 through a kiss from a well-intentioned family member or friend. Fever blisters are so common as to almost be unavoidable. ASHA indicates that by age 50, more than 90 percent are infected with HSV-1. If your child has a fever blister, he may complain of a tingling or burning sensation on the skin a day or two before a watery lesion erupts. The lesion eventually ruptures, dries out and scabs over. Fever blisters go away after seven to 10 days.
The quickest way to heal a fever blister is simply to leave it alone. This means no scratching, no itching and no picking. Encourage your child to wash her hands frequently, especially if she accidentally touches the sores. The HSV-1 virus can get in her eyes, where it can potentially do some serious damage. As mentioned, fever blisters are contagious. Discourage your child from giving friendly kisses to playmates or making face-to-face contact until the blister has completely healed.
Soothing the Sore
A cool or warm compress can reduce some of the pain associated with fever blisters. There are some over-the-counter numbing creams that can make your child feel more comfortable. MayoClinic.Com suggests using topical creams that contain lidocaine or benzocaine; however, keep in mind that creams keep the blister moist, and this can delay healing time. According to ASHA, the only topical cream approved by the FDA that’s proven to help fever blisters heal faster is Abreva.
See a Doctor
Fever blisters generally resolve expediently without the need for medical treatment, says MayoClinic.Com. However, there are times when your child may need additional intervention. Contact her pediatrician if the fever blister doesn’t heal within two weeks, seems to be getting worse or if you notice irritation around the eyes. Medical treatment is also appropriate for children with compromised immune systems.
Fever blisters eventually go away, but your child can get another. According to ASHA, around 25 percent of people infected with HSV-1 have repeated outbreaks, although symptoms are generally milder. Stress, illness and sunlight can trigger another fever blister. Apply sunblock to your child’s face and lips before he goes outdoors, regardless of the season.