If you have a child with cold sores, you’re probably wondering what they are and how you can help your little one feel better. Cold sores are small, painful blisters that are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and are highly contagious.

In this blog post, we’ll answer all of your questions about cold sores in children, including what causes them and which kids are at risk. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cold sores in kids.

What Are Cold Sores In Children?

Cold sores are tiny, painful blisters that usually form around the mouth, nose, or chin. They’re filled with clear fluid and can be quite painful. Cold sores usually only last for a week or two, but they can occasionally linger for longer. If your child has a cold sore, it’s important to keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t get too big or start to bleed. 

What Causes Cold Sores In A Child?

Children get cold sores from the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus is highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with someone who has an active cold sore or from touching an object that has been exposed to the virus.

Once a child is infected with HSV, the virus remains in their body for life and can cause cold sores to reappear several times a year.  

Which Children Are At Risk For Cold Sores?

All children are at risk for developing cold sores, but some children may be more likely to develop them than others. Children with weakened immune systems (such as those receiving radiation treatment for cancer) or who have certain medical conditions (such as eczema) are more susceptible to developing cold sores. Additionally, kids who experience frequent lip-licking or finger-sucking may also be more likely to develop cold sores. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Cold Sores In A Child?

The most common symptom of a cold sore is a small, painful blister that appears on the lip or around the mouth. The blister may be accompanied by tingling or itching around the mouth, fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. In some cases, children may also experience muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue.

Symptoms usually appear within 2-12 days after exposure to the virus and can last for up to 2 weeks.

Causes For Recurring Cold Sores In Children

In most cases, the herpes simplex virus (HSV) can remain dormant in the body for long periods of time, but certain triggers can cause it to become active again and cause a cold sore outbreak. Some of these triggers include stress, fatigue, fever or illness, dry or windy weather, and sun exposure.

How Does A Doctor Diagnose Cold Sores In A Child?

A doctor can usually diagnose a child’s cold sore based on its appearance. In some cases, a swab of the sore may be taken for laboratory testing to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other causes of similar symptoms. A blood test may also be used to confirm the diagnosis or to check for other underlying medical conditions that could be causing the cold sores.

How Are Cold Sores Treated In A Child?

There are a number of ways to treat cold sores in a child. One of the most common methods is to apply a topical cream or ointment. This can help to speed up the healing process and reduce pain and discomfort. Additionally, some over-the-counter cold sore treatments contain ingredients that can help to soothe pain and reduce inflammation.

In some cases, antiviral medication may also be prescribed. It is important to keep the affected area clean and dry and to avoid touching or scratching the sore. If your child is suffering from a cold sore, talk to your doctor about which treatment option may be right for them.

What Are Some Possible Complications That Can Occur If A Child Has Cold Sores?

Although most cold sores in children are mild and clear up on their own with no complications, some cases can become more serious. Complications of cold sores may include scarring of the affected area, spreading of the virus to other parts of the body, or bacterial infection. If your child experiences any signs of infection, such as fever or swollen lymph nodes, be sure to contact your doctor right away.

How Can I Help Prevent Cold Sores In My Child?

One of the best ways to help prevent cold sores in a child is by teaching them good hygiene habits, such as washing their hands often and avoiding contact with other people’s cold sores or objects that have been exposed to the virus. 

Additionally, it is important to avoid triggers that could cause the virus to become active again, such as exposure to the sun or wind, stress, fatigue, and fever. If your child is taking medication that could weaken their immune system, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce their risk of developing cold sores. 

Finally, be sure to keep any cuts or scrapes on your child’s lips clean and dry. This can help to prevent the virus from entering the body through an open wound. 

When Should I Call My Child’s Healthcare Provider?

A child’s healthcare provider should be called if cold sores last longer than ten days, are extremely painful, or are accompanied by a fever. If cold sores are noticed for the first time, it is a good idea to call the healthcare provider to ensure that it is indeed a cold sore and not something else.

Additionally, the healthcare provider can provide guidance on how to best care for cold sores and help prevent future outbreaks. While most cold sores will eventually heal on their own, seeking medical treatment can help to speed up the healing process and reduce discomfort.

It is important to remember that while cold sores in children are common, they can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s doctor. 

A Few Things Parents Should Know About Cold Sores in Children

For most people, these sores are nothing more than a nuisance. However, for children, cold sores can be much more serious. Here are some a few things parents should know about cold sores in children:

1. Children are particularly susceptible to contracting HSV because they have not yet built up immunity to the virus.

2. Once a child has contracted HSV, the virus remains dormant in their body for life. Periodically, the virus may “reactivate” and cause a cold sore outbreak.

3. Cold sores typically last 7-10 days and usually heal on their own without any treatment. However, some children may require antiviral medication to help shorten the duration of the outbreak.

4. While cold sores are generally not serious, they can cause complications in children with weakened immune systems, such as those with cancer or HIV/AIDS. In rare cases, HSV can also lead to meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

5. There is no cure for HSV, but there are several ways to manage and treat cold sore outbreaks. These include avoiding triggers such as stress and fatigue, using antiviral medications, and practicing good hygiene.

6. It is important to keep any child with a cold sore away from newborn babies, as HSV can be very dangerous for them. If you think your child has a cold sore, it is best to take them to see a doctor so that they can be properly diagnosed and treated if necessary.


If your child has a cold sore, don’t panic! Cold sores are normal and usually dissipate solo within a few days. However, if you notice your child’s cold sore lasts longer than two weeks or if any severe symptoms are there, contact your pediatrician immediately.

In the meantime, you can try some home remedies to manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. You can also check our article on How to Use Zovirax Cream for Cold Sores

We hope that this article has provided you with everything you need to know about cold sores in kids. With the right treatment and care, your child’s cold sore will heal quickly and safely.