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Oral herpes, more commonly known as cold sores, are a nasty thing most adults are all too familiar with. Cold sores can look really ugly, and they can hurt too. But we don't generally think of oral herpes as something that is dangerous, even though it is clear that an active outbreak of it means we can pass herpes onto others. There is one situation in which oral herpes can be really dangerous though, and that is for newborn babies. Why is oral herpes so dangerous for newborns, and how do you avoid spreading it to your little one?

Spreading herpes

The type of herpes that causes cold sores is known as Type 1. Many people believe that this is a different strain of herpes compared to the one that causes genital herpes, but research shows that around 30 percent of genital herpes infections are type 1. In other words, you can spread herpes from your lips to your genitals and even your eyes if you have a cold sore. This is always a risk. When you are pregnant, be especially diligent about washing your hands, and make sure you do not bring the herpes virus into contact with your genitals, as it can infect the baby while you are giving birth. If your partner has a cold sore, make sure he washes his hands frequently too!

Why is herpes a danger for newborns?

Neonatal herpes can cause seizures, a lack of desire to feed, temperature changes, and a bulging fontanel. Skin lesions all over the body, including the genitals and the lips, are also possible, and it can affect eyes too. Neonatal herpes can even be lethal.

How to avoid it?

If you have a current primary outbreak of genital herpes in pregnancy and are near term, you will probably need a c-section. But right now, we we are talking about oral herpes. If you have a newborn and oral herpes, make sure you do not bring your cold sore into contact with your baby at all. No kissing! Make sure to wash your hands all the time, and you might consider wearing a surgical mask while the outbreak lasts. Hopefully, it will be gone soon enough!

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