Cold Sores During Pregnancy - Is It Dangerous?


Cold sores during pregnancy are the typical blisters in the mouth caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores are more common during pregnancy. It is believed that the hormonal changes are responsible for an increased susceptibility. During pregnancy, there is usually no danger to the child if the mother has cold sores.

How dangerous is cold sore for my baby?

Cold sores are common in pregnancy and are usually not dangerous for the mother or the baby.

It is usually not a new infection of the mother with the herpes virus, but these are already in the nerve cells of the majority of the population. During pregnancy, these can migrate along the nerve pathways to the lips and cause the typical painful blisters there.

There is no transmission to the baby or any other influence. However, cold sores during pregnancy can also indicate an increased level of stress. Since a lot of stress can have a negative effect on the baby, the mother should reconsider with cold sores whether she can reduce possible stress and take more care of herself.

A herpes infection can generally be dangerous when a person's immune system is severely weakened. Therefore, infection of the baby should be avoided after birth. If the mother still has cold sores, she should wear a face mask until the blisters are crusted over. In this way a possible danger to the baby can be averted.

How dangerous is cold sore in early pregnancy?

Cold sores at the beginning of pregnancy are not dangerous.
In an outbreak, the unborn child is not infected with the virus, nor is disease or harm. In most cases, cold sores heal again within a few days to a few weeks during pregnancy, so there is no need to worry if an outbreak occurs at the beginning of pregnancy.

How dangerous is cold sore at the end of pregnancy?

Cold sores are usually neither dangerous for the mother nor for the child, even if this occurs at the end of the pregnancy.

Unlike genital herpes, there is no risk of infection in the child at birth. After the birth, if the mother has still active herpes disease of the lips, transmission to the child should be avoided. This is usually achieved by wearing a face mask and regular hand disinfection. A separation of mother and child is not necessary.
As soon as all of the blisters are encrusted on the mother's lips, there is no longer any risk of infection.

What to do with cold sores during pregnancy

Cold sores during pregnancy, like herpes that occurs independently of pregnancy, can be treated with an ointment that contains an anti-virus agent. The ointment is applied directly to the affected area and only works there.

The baby is not influenced by the therapy. Even if the active ingredient is taken in tablet form, there is no risk of pregnancy or malformation of the child.

However, cold sores during pregnancy usually heal within a few days, even without treatment or through the use of home remedies. However, therapy with an ointment containing active ingredients can alleviate the symptoms and accelerate healing.

Find out more at: Cold Sores - How To Treat It Correctly

Which drugs help with cold sores during pregnancy?

In the case of cold sores during pregnancy, treatment with medication may be useful. The active ingredient of choice is called acyclovir. It is a so-called antiviral drug, i.e. a drug that slows down the reproduction cycle of the herpes viruses responsible for the disease.

Acyclovir can also be given during pregnancy and there is sufficient experience to show that it does not have a negative impact on the growing child. In addition, acyclovir is usually administered in the form of an ointment for cold sores, which anyway only works locally. The use of the drug is particularly useful when a herpes outbreak is beginning. In later phases the healing process is only slightly influenced and healing usually takes place even without the use of a drug.

Learn more at:

  • Cold sore creams
  • Zovirax® in pregnancy
  • Acyclovir

How long does cold sore last during pregnancy?

Cold sores during pregnancy usually last for a few days to a few weeks. Different stages are passed through.

  • Initially, the skin becomes red and the typical grouped vesicles are formed.
  • These burst open after a while. The risk of infection is highest in this phase.
  • The affected areas of the skin then crust and heal, which can take a few days.

If cold sores persist for several weeks during pregnancy or if new blisters keep appearing, the gynecologist or family doctor should be consulted.

You can also find more information at: Duration of cold sores

Causes of cold sores in pregnancy

The cause of cold sores during pregnancy is a localized outbreak of the disease due to the pathogen herpes simplex virus type 1. About 90 percent of the population are infected with this virus anyway, but it mostly rests in the nerve cells and does not cause any symptoms there.

Only when the immune system is weakened can the herpes viruses migrate along the nerve pathways to the skin and cause the typical vesicles there, which in most cases leads to cold sores.
It is believed that during pregnancy, due to the hormonal changes and the resulting weakness of the immune system, the herpes viruses are activated and therefore cold sores also occur in women who otherwise never suffer from it. In some women, the vesicles form more frequently during the period of menstruation, which makes a connection to hormonal changes very likely.

Cold sores in the expectant mother are not a possible cause of harm to the child during pregnancy. Only genital herpes caused by herpes simplex type 2 is feared of infection at birth, as the child's organism is not yet able to deal with the virus to fight and it can lead to a threatening illness.

If your cold sore has cleared by the end of your pregnancy, there is nothing to worry about. However, if there are still blisters on the mother's lips after the birth, infection should be avoided by wearing a face mask and regular hand disinfection.

What are the accompanying symptoms of cold sores during pregnancy?

The accompanying symptoms of cold sores during pregnancy do not differ from those of a herpes outbreak without pregnancy. Usually you notice tingling and itching on the lips at the beginning, mainly on the edges of the lips.

Only after a few hours do the grouped small vesicles typical of cold sores form in the appropriate places. In addition, there is reddening of the skin. Most of the time, the blisters are an accompanying symptom that is painful and can also cause itching.

As the process progresses, the blisters burst open after a few days and dry out. A crust forms, which comes off a little later.
There are no special accompanying symptoms with cold sores during pregnancy. However, in particularly stressful phases of pregnancy, an outbreak or a cold infection in the mother often occurs, which leads to a weakened immune system in the body.

also read: Herpes Simplex

Diagnosing cold sores in pregnancy

The diagnosis of cold sores is usually quite easy, as it comes to the typical appearance of small, clustered blisters on reddened skin. It is therefore usually sufficient for the doctor to look at the affected area in order to assess whether it is a cold sore or another skin disease.

In addition, he will usually ask the patient a few questions. If necessary, he will ask whether the mother-to-be is worried about her pregnancy and the child because of the cold sore. In such a case, it is important that the doctor can reassure the patient.

Further measures, such as a blood test in the laboratory, are usually not required to diagnose cold sores during pregnancy.

Is cold sore a sign of pregnancy?

Cold sores cannot be considered a sign of pregnancy if it is the only abnormality in a woman.

When a woman becomes pregnant, there are a number of possible changes in the body due to hormonal influences, some of which are typical signs of pregnancy.

  • Often the first thing that is noticed is a lack of menstruation.
  • In addition, there are often unspecific complaints such as nausea
  • and vomiting in the morning.
  • Swollen and sensitive breasts also show up in the early stages of pregnancy.

However, these are only signs and ultimately only a pregnancy test or an examination by the (gynecologist) doctor can reveal whether the woman is actually pregnant or not.

Even if cold sores occur more frequently during pregnancy than in non-pregnant women, it should not be concluded immediately that a pregnancy could be present if herpes breaks out. Nevertheless, it is possible that cold sores and a previously undetected pregnancy occur at the same time. If there are any other abnormalities, a pregnancy test should therefore be carried out.

Do you think you may be pregnant? Then also read: These signs indicate pregnancy

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