What to Do When Your Child Has a Fever Blister
The Doc Smitty explains what you need to know about herpes simplex virus and how to treat it
Fever blisters are the worst.
Now that that’s out of the way.
They’re painful, not fun to look at and just all around annoying, for everyone, but especially for teenagers.
Which is why it’s important that parents and teens know what they are and what treatment options are available.
What are fever blisters?
Fever blisters are ulcers of the lips, usually at the border of where the lips meet normal skin. Other types of ulcers can be confused with fever blisters but these usually occur inside the mouth or on the tongue.
They are caused by a recurrence of a viral infection known as herpes simplex virus (HSV). Many families are not aware of their children’s first HSV infection because it may be mild or have no symptoms. They are contagious, so it’s not uncommon for multiple family members to struggle with fever blisters.
The sores can come and go, especially during times of stress, illness, sunlight or fever. Most commonly they’ll appear around prom or other times when pictures are super important (acne has a similar skill). Before the sores erupt, some people will feel itching or pain in the area, but not always.
How can we treat fever blisters?
There are two main considerations for treatment of fever blisters:
- Who needs treatment
- What strategy of treatment are we going to use
Treatment is unnecessary for most teens with fever blisters. If the pain isn’t severe and their outbreaks are small and short, it’s perfectly fine to keep an eye on them and treat pain with topical therapy or ibuprofen.
In children with more severe but infrequent issues, treatment with an anti-viral medication can be started when they first begin to feel the signs of an oncoming fever blister. This treatment has been shown to decrease the severity and length of the outbreaks.