The Natural Treatment of Herpes in Children
Herpes usually makes its first appearance in children, through mouth lesions that are painful and quite annoying. These tend to affect your quality of life, but there are a number of simple and truly helpful treatment measures. In the following article, you’ll find some of the strategies for the natural treatment of herpes in children that have adequate scientific support.
What is herpes?
Herpes is a health condition caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 or type 2, which has the ability to remain dormant in our body after the first infection.
Although it doesn’t produce symptoms in the latent phase, when faced with certain changes in the general state of health, such as a decrease in defenses, the virus can reactivate and cause typical lesions.
The two types of herpes simplex viruses vary according to their location:
- Type 1 (HSV-1): Most often causes oral herpes and is responsible for cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth and on the face.
- Type 2 (HSV-2): Causes genital herpes and is responsible for outbreaks of genital herpes
This virus is quite contagious and is transmitted from person to person, generally through direct contact (skin-to-skin).
Most commonly, children contract HSV during childhood, through contact with an infected adult. From there, it produces the first symptoms and then goes into latency.
It’s important to note that once this virus enters, it remains in the child’s body throughout their life.
Read also: 10 Types of Dermatitis in Children
The clinical manifestations of herpes in children
According to some publications in the journal American Family Physician, HSV infections in children manifest themselves in different ways: From uncomplicated mucocutaneous diseases to serious infections that affect the central nervous system and can compromise the child’s life.
As we already mentioned, HSV causes lifelong infection. However, the clinical manifestations vary according to the health status of the person carrying it (host). In this sense, age, the state of immunity, the type of virus, and the site of infection determine the course of the disease.
The primary infection (or first episode) is usually asymptomatic. However, in some cases, it presents mild symptoms, such as lesions on the skin of the mouth or in the anogenital region.
In younger children, a more extensive oral involvement , called gingivostomatitis, may be seen. On the contrary, when the first episode occurs in older children or adolescents, it manifests as pharyngitis.
You may be interested: 10 Most Common Skin Conditions in Babies
The natural treatment of herpes in children
When the infection occurs in healthy children, the condition usually resolves on its own within 10 to 21 days. After this period, the virus enters a dormant state in the nerve ganglia near the site of the injury.
Currently, there’s no cure for this virus. However, therapeutic management is aimed at eliminating the sores and limiting the extent and duration of the outbreaks.
Here, we’ll share some strategies for the natural treatment of herpes in children.
You should try to touch or scratch the lesion as little as possible because the hands are capable of transferring the virus to other parts of the body, such as the eyes.
In addition to the direct skin-to-skin contact route, the child can be infected after handling objects contaminated with this virus. For this reason, you should wash hands and toys relatively frequently.
Apply cold to the lesions
Applying local ice to sores or lesions caused by the virus can help soothe the pain of cold sores in children. Even cold foods can be effective in soothing sensitive lips and preventing dehydration.
It’s important to limit the consumption of acidic products during outbreaks, as they can further irritate the lesions.
Vitamin D for herpes in children
There are many vitamins that can protect the body against the virus and reduce the signs and symptoms that it causes. Some studies conclude that vitamin D has an important immunomodulatory function and is linked to the prevention of various infectious diseases.
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, which can reduce the cellular stress caused by certain viral infections. This could help the immune system defend itself against HSV.
Currently, there are some clinical trials under investigation, which are studying the role of vitamin E in the control of herpes virus infection.
The use of essential oils helps decrease the spread of the virus between cells infected by the HSV-1 variant. Some of the oils related to these positive effects are as follows:
- Eucalyptus Cesia
In addition to their oral consumption, they can also be used in bath water or room diffusers. Direct application on lesions isn’t recommended, as they can cause a secondary bacterial infection.
Sunscreen for the natural treatment of herpes in children
While sunscreen provides protection to the lips in all contexts, it also contributes to reducing the frequency of breakouts. This is because the aggression of the sun is a trigger for the reactivation of the virus.
You should use broad-spectrum sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) greater than 30. In fact, there are sunscreens that come in the form of sticks or balms, which facilitate their application on the lips.
Aloe vera gel is a product with a lot of availability in the market. It has anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects and is a decongestant. You should keep it in the refrigerator in order to boost its comforting and decongestant effects.
Herpes in children and the quality of life
Herpes in children is easily spread, due to constant handling and scratching of the lesions. This not only favors the spread of infection to other parts of the body, but also to the contamination of objects of personal use or those that are shared with other children (such as toys at daycare or school).
Herpetic lesions are usually very annoying, painful, and capable of affecting the quality of life of children. In general, it makes it difficult for them to eat and drink fluids, which leads to complications such as dehydration.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Öztekin A, Öztekin C. Vitamin D Levels in Patients with Recurrent Herpes Labialis. Viral Immunol. 2019 Jul/Aug;32(6):258-262. doi: 10.1089/vim.2019.0013. Epub 2019 May 30. PMID: 31145049.
- Lin LY, Bhate K, Forbes H, Smeeth L, Warren-Gash C, Langan S. Vitamin D deficiency or supplementation and the risk of human herpesvirus infections or reactivation: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open. 2019 Oct 7;9(10):e031867. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031867. PMID: 31594899; PMCID: PMC6797410.
- Álvarez, D. M., Castillo, E., Duarte, L. F., Arriagada, J., Corrales, N., Farías, M. A., Henríquez, A., Agurto-Muñoz, C., & González, P. A. (2020). Current Antivirals and Novel Botanical Molecules Interfering With Herpes Simplex Virus Infection. Frontiers in microbiology, 11, 139. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.00139