Herpes in babies: learn how to identify and treat

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Herpes in babies can cause asymptomatic infections to more serious conditions, such as meningoencephalitis. See how to prevent!

Although rare, the virus herpes in babies can cause severe symptoms, raising the age-old but very important discussion about the dangers of kissing babies and toddlers. The disease, which affects about 70% of the world’s population, can cause serious infections, such as meningoencephalitisa severe type of meningitis.

Transmission of the herpes simplex virus to babies can happen in two ways: through childbirthif the mother has an active genital herpes lesion, or through the kiss.

“Herpes simplex has the ability to stay in the body and not be eliminated, which makes it possible to reactivate, whether due to a drop in immunity or specific situations. At the time of this reactivation, the baby may be contaminated”, says Marcelo Otsuka, pediatric infectologist at Hospital Infantil Darcy Vargas (HIDV).

Know more: How do I know who I got herpes from?

Herpes is a contagious viral infection that usually causes lesions in the mouth area, in the case of cold sores, or in the intimate area, in the case of genital herpes. There are two types of the herpes virus: the simple type 1, transmitted by oral contact, and the simple type 2, transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse. After infection, the virus can remain inactive in the body for a while, without showing symptoms, but it can still be contagious.

How to identify herpes in baby?

Herpes in babies can be, in some cases, asymptomatic, being difficult to identify until there is a reactivation of the virus with apparent lesions. In other cases, the baby herpes symptoms they can range from mild manifestations to more worrying conditions. In general, the symptoms are:

  • Lesions on the tongue, cheeks, gums and lips

  • inflamed gums

  • drool frequently

  • difficulty swallowing

  • High fever

  • Irritability

In more serious cases, the baby may develop meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain and meninges caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses, including herpes simplex. This condition, which affects the nervous system, can lead to symptoms such as:

“All children whose mothers have an active herpes lesion need to be followed up with a pediatrician. Eventually, when symptoms of the infection appear in them as well, children should be treated according to each clinical case”, explains Marcelo.

How to treat herpes in babies?

According to the infectologist and pediatrician, the treatment of herpes in babies depends on the infection in each child. “When we have serious conditions, such as meningoencephalitis, basically the treatment needs to be carried out with an intravenous antiviral drug, that is, applied into a vein. Most of the time, the indication is the use of Aciclovir”, explains Marcelo.

Acyclovir is an antiviral that works by fighting the action of herpes simplex, blocking its multiplication mechanisms in cells, reducing its power of infection. In addition to the intravenous version, there is an ointment for herpes made with Acyclovir, which is indicated for the topical treatment of labial and genital lesions in adults.

Read more: Genital herpes symptoms: see the top 8 and how to alleviate them

Also have how to treat herpes in babies with ointments, if there are active lesions in the child’s mouth or face. “But this is not the main form of presentation of herpes in young children. Eventually, you may not have any symptoms and do not even need treatment”, says the infectologist.

Essential care to avoid transmitting herpes to babies

The main way to prevent baby herpes is to avoid contact with active lesions. “A person who has a cold sore should not be kissing the child”, reinforces Marcelo. Even if the infection is not active, there may be contamination and, therefore, it is important that visitors and relatives avoid kissing the hands, as they can be brought to the mouth.

Regarding contamination at the time of delivery, in the case of genital herpes, the solution is to talk to the gynecologist and obstetrician to understand the best way out. “At the time of delivery, genital herpes should be approached by the gynecologist so that he can indicate some conducts that can help the fetus not have the infection”, says the infectologist.

Content for educational purposes only. Consult a Doctor.

The translator user relied on the following source:

Minha Vida Website – REF99827

Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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