Herpetic gingivostomatitis is a common infection of the mouth and gums that is caused by a virus. It most commonly affects toddlers and young children, but older children can also get this infection.
Herpes simplex viruses, which also cause cold sores, are the cause of this infection.
The infection is passed from person to person through contact with saliva that contains the virus. It can spread by sharing utensils, cups, and bottles; thumbsucking; and putting toys in the mouth. Often it may spread from someone who has cold sores.
The illness usually starts with a fever. Other symptoms may include:
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child.
If this is the first time your child has had oral herpes infection, your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe an antiviral medicine to help the sores go away more quickly. Since it is caused by a virus, antibiotics do not help.
The fever usually lasts for a few days. The painful mouth sores last 3 to 5 days before they start to get better. It will take about 14 days before the sores completely heal.
After the mouth sores heal, the virus stays in the body and can become active again. If the infection does come back, usually the sores are not as severe. Sores that return on the lips are called cold sores.
Some other things you can do for pain caused by sores in the mouth include:
Help your child keep from spreading the virus. Try to keep your child's hand away from his mouth while he has sores. Tell your child not to rub his eyes so that the eyes don’t get infected.
Ask your child’s healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when you should bring your child back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
It can be hard to keep babies and toddlers from getting exposed to the virus. Try to avoid contact with people who have cold sores and don’t share eating or drinking utensils. Good handwashing also helps to lessen the chance that a virus will pass from person to person.