Cold sores, or fever blisters, are fluid filled blisters that appear on or around the lips. They are caused by a viral infection called herpes simplex type 1. This is not to be confused with herpes simplex type 2 which causes sores in the face and on the genitalia.
Cold sores are often confused with canker sores but they are completely different. A canker sore appears in the mouth and is not viral related.
A toddler can easily contract a cold sore from another child who has the virus. All it takes is a shared cup or utensil, or putting a toy in their mouth that has been exposed to the virus.
Surprisingly, most people carry this herpes simplex type 1 virus for life. Once you have it, it never goes away. Some people with the virus never have a flare up while others may be plagued with cold sores.
A cold sore is usually not dangerous and will go away on its own. In rare cases however, a cold sore can be spread to other parts of the body where it does present a danger. If the virus is spread to the eye it can become a serious eye infection that could ultimately damage a child’s eye sight.
If your child has a cold sore and you notice a sore appearing on the eyelid or in the eye, contact the doctor immediately. Your child will need antiviral drugs and further follow up care.
When your child has a cold sore, make sure that they do not pick at it or put their fingers on it. And remember that this is a viral infection and is very contagious. All it takes is one kiss to transfer the cold sore.