Oral Herpes and Children: Why the Virus is Dangerous for Child and the Basics about the Herpes Virus Strain
The herpes virus strain is one of the most common causes for the growth of painful blisters inside the mouth and around the lip area of any individual. This virus strain is particularly dangerous for child 6 months up to 3 years of age and any other human being belonging to a different age group with an equally compromised immune system. There are two types of herpes manifestations: oral and genital. While genital herpes is closely linked to other sexually transmitted diseases, oral herpes can be transferred through the saliva. Day care centers are notorious for spreading the viral infection simply because an infected child can spread it by sharing toys which have been exposed to his/her saliva. Once the infected toy makes contact with another child’s mouth, that child will also be infected. Herpes and children almost go together. About 80% of the American population got infected with the virus as a child.
There are two known strains of the herpes virus known as herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus -2 (HSV-2). The first strain, HSV-1, is responsible for 80% of the occurrences of oral herpes. Infections usually occur in three phases: the primary or the first infection, dormancy, and recurrence.
During the primary infection in children and toddlers, particularly painful blisters may develop around their tongue, the roof of the mouth, and even the gums. Toddlers may have a fever because they’re trying to deal with the pain caused by these blisters; hence, the tag, “fever blisters”. Herpes oral sores are also called “cold sores” and they should never be confused with cankers sores, which aren’t caused by viral infections. A child who is suffering from fever blisters may also have swollen lymph nodes. This is the body’s natural reaction against any viral infection.
After the primary infection that usually lasts for about a week, the infection moves on to its latency or dormancy phase. The virus, in this stage, reproduces, but it becomes inactive. This means that little or no pain is experienced by the child at this stage. However, the child is still carrying the herpes virus, which means that any transfer of saliva may still initiate infection in another child. It is advised for the infected child not to kiss any other children and not to share toys with his/her playmates especially if the child is still putting things in his/her mouth.
Recurrences can occur again 30% to 40% of the time, especially when the child’s immunity is compromised. The herpes virus can be reactivated if the child is dealing with any physical stress (extreme fatigue, common cold, or other diseases) or emotional stress. While healthy adults hardly experience recurrences of oral herpes, those with poor immune systems may experience fever blisters again. One of the most common ways to fight of the viral strain is to drink a lot of fruit juices that are rich in antioxidants. Regular, moderate exercise is also known to help release stress and minimize the recurrence of oral herpes.