A mother in the U.S. is on a mission to warn parents about the dangers of cold sores following the hospitalisation of her baby who was covered in the blister-like spots.
Samantha Rodgers told WRIC News that her son Juliano had sores "growing onto his hands and his neck and his stomach" after someone unintentionally passed the virus onto him.
"All I can say is be cautious, it can be anybody, your best friend, your sister your brother or your mum, it can be anybody. Everybody needs to wash their hands, sanitise if you see a cold sore or anything on them, just don't let them come by your baby," she said.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus, which is found in an estimated 80 percent of adults, most of whom are infected when they are young and have the virus for life.
The highly contagious virus can be spread between people through direct contact, such as kissing, sharing drink containers or eating utensils and even towels with someone who already has a cold sore.
While Juliano is recovering from the cold sores, his mother said that knowing he will carry the virus for life breaks her heart.
"It sucks because this is a life-long problem now every time he runs a fever, every time he's sick he can have an outbreak, I don't know how to handle this. I am trying to do the best. It's sad," she said.
How can you prevent cold sores?
According to the University of Melbourne's head of paediatrics, Professor Cheryl Jones, the most effective way to prevent cold sores is to avoid direct contact with someone who has a lesion.
"I'm talking direct contact -- you can still be in the same room as them and sit beside them -- but things like using barrier protection for sexual intercourse if someone has genital herpes; and if someone gets oral herpes, then avoiding sharing spoons or things where the virus can be shared," Jones told HuffPost Australia last year.
"You also want to avoid kissing if they [have a cold sore] around the lips, especially babies if you have [a cold sore] yourself.
"Wash your hands with soap and water -- it doesn't have to be an alcohol rub or bacterial soap -- and try to avoid touching those lesions and even covering them if necessary."
Jones also advises people to be aware of what triggers outbreaks (sunburn and wind are some examples) and to act accordingly.
Can cold sores be treated?
"In terms of when you have the infection, by the time it breaks out in the cold sore, you can use topical antiviral agents, though they are not particularly effective in limiting its course," Jones said.
"It's very hard for them to penetrate into where the virus is residing.
"An oral agent can help, but for most people, by the time gets it into the system, it's already too late to prevent the lesion from occurring.
"Sometimes people get tingling beforehand and they know they are doing to get something in the area -- if that's the case, that's the best time to take antiviral medication.
"If someone has really troublesome legions, or if their immune system is altered, they can get oral anti viral agents to use [more consistently], but this is only for extreme cases."
Once you've got a cold sore, there's not much you can really do as it's too late to pursue an effective means of treatment.
"Once it has erupted, you're less likely to be able to do anything to alter its course or lessen the duration," Jones said.
"It's a tricky virus for a couple of reasons. It gets into the body and hides in our nerves, so it's very hard to make a vaccine against, even though we've been trying for years.
"It's very difficult, because by the time the virus is showing up as a cold sore, it's quite hard to... you can't give medicine that can clear the storehouse of the virus
"You can provide some systematic relief but it won't get rid of it altogether."Suggest a correction