Herpes in children – causes, symptoms and treatment options

Although it could be understood from its name, herpes in children is not only a childhood disease, but a condition that patients face throughout their lives. We say this because herpes in children is part of the category of diseases that cannot be cured, but fortunately there are effective treatment methods through which it can be kept under control.

In many cases, herpes in children is contracted from birth or after the first days of life, and the earlier this happens, the greater the risk of complications.

Since it can be a serious problem that endangers the lives of the little ones, we will continue to present all the essential information about herpes in children.


  1. How herpes occurs in children
  2. What symptoms does herpes cause in children
  3. Treatment methods for herpes in children
  4. How can herpes be prevented in children


How herpes occurs in children

Herpes in children is an infectious disease caused by a virus called Herpex simplex (HSV). This virus exists in two variants called HSV-1 and HSV-2, of which the first variant is the most widespread. In most cases, the HSV-1 virus generates facial manifestations, while the HSV-2 variant manifests itself especially in the genital areas, and depending on these manifestations, we can talk about two types of herpes, namely oral and genital herpes .

As for herpes in children, it can be transmitted from birth, if the mother suffers from genital herpes , or it can be contracted later, through direct contact with infected persons or contaminated objects. We are therefore talking about an extremely contagious virus, so herpes in children can be contracted very easily, especially in the first days of life, when the immune system is not yet ready to deal with it.

Therefore, herpes in children can be transmitted at birth from an infected mother or can be contracted along the way from her, from another person carrying HSV or from contaminated objects, with which such a person came into contact .

In general, women who in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy had genital herpes-specific manifestations for the first time risk transmitting the infection to the child at the time of birth, if this occurs naturally.

If herpes in children is not contracted at birth, there is still a high risk of this happening in the first 4 weeks of life, especially in cases where the mother is infected with the HSV virus and exhibits specific symptoms.

What symptoms does herpes cause in children

Three distinct forms are known that herpes can “wear” in children, and depending on these we can talk about specific symptoms that can be more or less severe.

In the happiest cases, herpes in children boils down to skin manifestations located on the face, mostly around the mouth or eyes. These manifestations consist of the appearance of papules containing fluid, which later break and form crusts on the surface of the skin. These manifestations usually appear in the first week after infection and can be accompanied by irritability, sometimes even severe respiratory disorders and, in some more serious cases, jaundice.

A more severe form of herpes in children causes inflammation of the brain tissue, which leads to encephalitis. In such situations, herpes in children also includes neurological manifestations, consisting of dizziness, irritability, learning difficulties, memory loss, convulsions and weakness. In this case, the symptoms usually appear in the second week after contracting the infection and manifest over a longer period.

The most serious form of herpes in children is disseminated herpes , in which case the virus spreads throughout the body, through the blood. In such cases, several organs are affected, which generates a varied range of symptoms, and the disease evolves into septicemia, that is, a generalized infection throughout the body.

If herpes in children is limited to skin manifestations, the greatest risk is the transmission of the infection to other people, but in encephalitis and disseminated forms, the infection can be fatal if the necessary measures are not taken urgently.

Treatment methods for herpes in children

Until now, no treatment has been discovered to cure herpes in children, because once the HSV virus enters the body, it remains there for the rest of life. However, things are not as serious as they seem at first glance, because there are solutions through which herpes in children can be kept under control, provided that these solutions are put into practice as soon as the first manifestations of the disease appear.

The goal of the treatment is to weaken the virus and make it less active, so that the specific manifestations of this infection occur as rarely as possible. For this purpose, antiviral drugs are administered to reduce the duration of symptoms and bring the virus into a state of latency as long as possible. It is important that the antiviral treatment for herpes in children begins to be administered within 24 hours at most from the appearance of the first symptoms, and a medical prescription is needed to obtain the necessary drugs.

At the doctor’s recommendation, creams can also be used to alleviate the unpleasant symptoms that accompany the appearance of liquid papules and then specific lesions.

If herpes in children recurs frequently, longer-term antiviral treatment is used, between 6 and 12 months.

How to prevent herpes in children

The main responsibility for preventing herpes in children rests with the mother, considering that in most cases the infection is transmitted from mother to child. Such a concern must exist from the time of pregnancy, especially in the case of women who have manifestations of genital herpes in their medical history. The doctor who supervises the pregnancy must know this in order to prescribe a specific treatment for the future mother in the last month of pregnancy, a treatment that will prevent the appearance of eruptions that could infect the child at birth.

Also, if such eruptions appear in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, it is recommended that the birth be done by caesarean section, to avoid infecting the child.

The risk of infection is also quite high after birth, if the mother is a carrier of the HSV virus, and the specific symptoms of herpes appear during this period. In the event that the characteristic eruptions appear on the face, mothers must avoid kissing their children and obviously must not allow this to another person who presents such symptoms. It is also recommended to thoroughly wash your hands before any contact with the child, as well as cover the skin lesions with sterile dressings, to further avoid infecting the child.

As he grows, it is important that he learns the rules of hygiene from an early age, to learn to protect himself, and parents must be careful with what other children come into contact with at the kindergarten or in the playgrounds, because they can be infected with herpes and pass it on to their child.


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