I think I might be getting a cold sore on my mouth. My baby is only 2 weeks old. What precautions should I take so that she doesn’t get a cold sore?
Verify with your doctor that it is a cold sore. Some people think they have a cold sore but they really have a canker sore or a mouth ulcer. Typically a cold sore occurs on the outside of the mouth and a canker sore is on the inside of the mouth.
The reason it is so important to see a medical professional if you think you have a cold sore is because there are medications that can speed up the healing time. That is important because the virus that causes cold sores, Herpes Simplex 1, is highly contagious during the blister stage.
Hand washing is always important with a new baby, but especially important during the infant stage. Babies do not have strong immune systems. If you have a sore erupting you should not be kissing your baby. It can be very tempting to touch the sore. So it probably would be a good idea to wear a mask over your mouth.
The virus that causes cold sores is not related to the cold or the flu. The herpes simplex virus 1, is spread through actual contact with the virus. That can be direct contact through kissing. If your baby contracted the virus he or she could have inflamed gums, mouth soreness, have a fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and general discomfort. A baby would be unusually cranky and cry continually.
Just like the virus that causes chicken pox can lay dormant in your body for years and then cause one to have shingles later on in life, so can the herpes simplex virus 1. Most experts believe that stress can be a trigger for an outbreak of the virus. Post partum can be a very stressful time. On top of the daily challenges of meeting your baby’s needs most mothers are also sleep deprived. We know that not getting enough sleep can make one vulnerable to getting all kinds of sicknesses.
A recent study released by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh concluded after studying 153 healthy men and women that indeed duration of sleep was important in staying healthy but efficient sleep was also very important. As a new mother it is important that when you are able to sleep that you in a comfortable bed. Sleeping in a chair or on the couch will not be as comfortable as being in a bed.
We all know that if momma isn’t happy no one is happy. So get as much sleep as you can so that you can be strong and healthy for your baby. The hardest part of having a cold sore at this time is probably not being able to kiss your baby.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.