7. Herpes in children

Herpes gingivostomatitis is a mouth infection that occurs in children aged 6 months to 5 years. It is caused by a virus called Herpes.

What is it?

Herpes gingivostomatitis is a mouth infection that occurs in children aged 6 months to 5 years. It is caused by a virus called Herpes, which is the same virus that causes cold sores on the face or lips. Infected saliva from an adult or another child is the mode of infection. The incubation period is 3-6 days, with an abrupt onset of the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms:

Your child may have sore open blisters and swelling of the gum, lips, tongue or hard palate, may have high fever and feel tired. It may be hard for your child to eat and swallow because of the pain. Your child may also have bad breath and a sore throat. The blisters usually heal in 1 to 2 weeks. Viral shedding from the saliva may continue for 3 weeks or more.

Care:

Your child may not feel like eating solid foods until his/her mouth feels better. Feed your child soft foods. Good choices are strained baby foods, soft fruits, mashed potatoes, yogurt and pudding. Your child should not eat salty, spicy and hard foods.

After each meal, rinse your child’s mouth with warm water. If possible let your child rinse or gargle his mouth and throat with warm salt water. Wash your hands and your child’s hands often. Wash any toys that your child puts in their mouth before and after your child plays with them.

Make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration. Give your child cool liquids to drink. This may help soothe the mouth and numb the pain.

Good choices are milk, milkshakes and clear liquids. Do not give citrus or carbonated drinks such as orange and grapefruit juice, or lemonade. These liquids will cause your child’s mouth to hurt more.

Your child may want to use a straw if they have blisters on the lips or the end of the tongue. Use a lip balm when the lips of your child are dry, cracked or chapped. You may give your child ibuprofen or tylenol for the pain.