Generally, when your child first gets the simplex virus, it will be accompanied by blisters throughout the mouth, as well as some significant soreness in the same area. It’s also possible for your child to experience inflammation of the gums, swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat, and possibly even a fever. This may all sound like a catalog of nasty medical conditions, but they are generally fairly mild in nature, and you may not even notice them. If your child does notice them, he/she may not be able to express exactly what's happening, so it's entirely possible that you may not even be aware that your child has the herpes simplex virus.
In most cases, your child's condition will improve in about two weeks, as far as the symptoms go. However, that virus will live on in your child's body for the rest of his/her life, remaining dormant for most of the time without ever manifesting. For some people, the infection never occurs again, while for others, it periodically has a flareup and produces the telltale cold sores over again.
After your child's primary herpes, i.e. the very first occurrence of it during youth, the secondary symptoms of fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and gum inflammation will probably not recur. However, the cold sores will always be there to make an appearance during all subsequent flareups of the herpes simplex virus.
The cold sores that your toddler incurs during an outbreak of the herpes simplex virus represent no real danger to the child's health, either at the time of the actual outbreak, or in the future. It is possible though, for the herpes simplex virus to be distributed throughout the body, and that can definitely present a danger.
Any child who contracts a cold sore within three months of being born is particularly at risk, and should be taken to a doctor right away. Very young toddlers and babies are most at risk from having the herpes simplex virus spread to organs throughout the body, including the brain. If this happens, it can cause permanent and serious damage to those organs, and the damage may even prove fatal.
Beyond three months, there is less danger to your child, but you should still do everything possible to prevent your child from touching their eyes after touching a cold sore. If the virus is spread to the eyes, it can trigger a very serious infection which can cause permanent damage. If a sore develops on your child's eyelid or on the actual surface of the eye, medical attention must be sought immediately, and most likely antiviral drugs will be administered, so that your child's cornea is not scarred permanently. This type of infection is called ocular herpes, and it has the potential to cause permanent blindness, or to seriously degrade your child's vision.
While the herpes simplex virus type I is generally recognizable by its appearance around the mouth, it will take a laboratory test to confirm HSV type II in a patient. Almost anyone is capable of recognizing the lesions which appear around the child's mouth, and are characteristic of HSV type I, so it's entirely possible that someone whom your child comes in contact with will identify it even before you do.
The cold sores which are associated with HSV type I have a significantly different appearance than canker sores do, although the two are often confused. Canker sores are identifiable by a whitish area in the center of the lesion, whereas cold sores are pretty much entirely red, and are often accompanied by blisters or by crusting around the perimeter. If there is any visual doubt as to whether your toddler has canker sores or cold sores, laboratory tests can be taken, using viral cultures and blood tests to confirm a diagnosis of HSV-1.
Although a cold sore will go away on its own after about two weeks, there are some steps you can take in the meantime which will alleviate the discomfort your toddler may be feeling. If your child has sores inside the mouth, that may seriously hinder his/her ability to chew food comfortably, so you should consult with your doctor right away to have that addressed. For less threatening symptoms of the virus, the following steps can be taken:
After a toddler’s primary exposure to the herpes simplex virus and that initial outbreak, there's a great deal of variance in whether or not your child ever experiences a secondary flareup. Some people never experience another cold sore outbreak for the rest of their lives, while others have recurring flareups periodically. In order to avoid repeated outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus, here are some of the best prevention steps which can be taken:
Herpes simplex virus is extremely contagious, and very little is required in order for it to be passed on to another person. Even a quick peck on an infected lip will cause the virus to be passed on to the person kissing the toddler. To prevent cold sores from being transmitted to other persons: