Herpes labialis and small children

I haven’t had herpes in quite a while, but now it’s back. Meanwhile, however, I have two kids, aged three years and seven months, respectively. I suppose I should stay away from them for a while, and I will. But I wonder:

  • What are the specific dangers of herpes to small children, other than getting herpes themselves? (I seem to remember something about meningitis…) Up to what age do I have to take special care?

  • How close can I get? No kissing or touching the mouth, okay. What about breathing/coughing/sneezing in their direction? How exactly is lip herpes transmitted, anyway?

  • At what stages of the illness do I become contagious, and when am I safe again? Anything I can do to speed up the process?

  • It’s not the same virus that causes herpes zoster (shingles), is it?

I’ll spare you the disclaimers and state right here that none of you will be held legally responsible for whatever advice you give me, whether you’re doctors or not.

Thanks a bunch!

The best advice for personal medical problems is “See your doctor.”

If you are truly concerned (and I believe you are) about transmitting this infection to children in your vicinity, please please please don’t rely on a message board inquiry for all of your information.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I think this is important enough to be repeated ad nauseum if need be.

I should’ve seen this coming.

Actually, I was trying to make clear that I will not rely on what I’m told in this forum. I will stay away from my children, probably much farther than necessary. I’ll ask my doctor next time I see him, but that won’t be until this spell of herpes is over, so I’ll just play it safe. Thus, my questions are mostly academic; I’d just like to know more. BTW, I once did ask a doctor on a similar occasion (I left that out of the OP for brevity) and got an inconclusive answer. I suppose I should see another one.

That said, you are of course right, Nickrz. Though I think I’m acting responsibly in this case, I may be encouraging others to rely on what they read in Internet fora. Don’t, guys!

Why not call him right now? Leaving a message for a callback will give him a chance to consult his PDA and you might get a more thorough answer. If you do call, please post the answer.

I’m a basic scientist studying herpes, so I’ll answer the scientific aspects in a general sort of way.

Oral herpes is transmitted by actual contact with a lesion that is actively “shedding” virus. Good rule of thumb: If you see the sore, it’s shedding virus. It is not an airborne pathogen. It is generally accepted that you only shed virus when you have a sore, and that the sore itself is the only locus from which the virus sheds.

Herpes zoster is caused by the virus that causes chickenpox, VZV. Shingles is actually a reactivation of the chickenpox virus that stays latent in your system. It is a herpes virus but a different class of herpes than the simplex viruses. Neither zoster nor chickenpox is caused by herpes simplex.

Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

Pulling out my copy of the infectious diseases handbook which I carry in my life as a professional registered nurse, we read that “Herpes simplex virus transmission is most efficient in individuals with active ulcerations of the mucous membranes or genitailia, but can still occur when virus is shed asymptomatically.” (in the absence of symptoms). Additionally, devastating neonatal infection is usually in the 6 weeks and under group, encephalitis can occur in those that have the disease, and acyclovir can shorten the length of the outbreak.

anecdotal information follows

I have a friend whose DOCTOR put her on low dose acyclovir everyday who says that she hasn’t had an outbreak in years. She also reports that before this, she would feel some burning before the lesions would develop and she would start her acyclvir then. Assuming that you have no contraindications for taking acyclovir YOUR DOCTOR should be willing to prescribe it over the phone. The best way to prevent the spead of any contact pathogen is to wash your hands a lot, thoroughly and frequently.

Is it just me, or is seeing cornflakes associated with herpes incredibly funny. It is almost like my old sig “move over Satan, now there’s something meatier” being in the thread where Satan talked about Heather’s strap-on fantasy.


Gasoline: As an accompaniement to cereal it made a refreshing change. Glen Baxter

Well, that’s the last time I post anything about herpes (I guess I’ve lived a sheltered life, but I never even heard it called that before.) I needed a username, and all I could think of was cornflakes; don’t ask me why.

Oh well, anything in the name of knowledge…

TheIncredibleHolg, actually almost everyone has herphes type 1, 40% have type 2, etc. You might read the statistics on this to get the accurate numbers.

It is present in the body. It sits there waiting to come out when the conditions of the body to surpress it are low. Which is why it flares up under certain conditions. been told by a nurse that in the hospital it really comes out for a lot of people.

In other words, your kids might already have it.