Cold Treatment For Baby

Children usually have numerous colds before their first birthday. Treating a newborn cold requires especially gentle care, but colds are not often serious.

However, the symptoms of colds in newborns may be similar to those of other illnesses, including croup and pneumonia. These conditions are more serious, so parents or caregivers should contact a pediatrician to ensure the baby has a cold and not another condition.

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Symptoms of a newborn cold

Newborns with a cold may have excess nasal discharge that starts runny and watery but progresses to a thicker yellow or green discharge within a few days. This is the natural progression of the infection and does not automatically mean symptoms are getting worse.

Other signs of a cold in a newborn include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • irritability or fussing
  • red eyes
  • lack of appetite
  • trouble sleeping or staying asleep
  • difficulty feeding due to a stuffy nose

A slight fever may also follow, another sign of their body fighting off the infection.

A caregiver should consult a pediatrician if any newborn has a rectal fever above 100.4 °F to rule out an infection more serious than a cold.

Common Cold Treatment At Home For Baby

How do babies catch a cold?

The common cold is caused by viruses, or germs, that infect the nose, throat and sinuses.

Cold germs spread easily. Babies are continually touching things that may have germs on them, such as their noses, eyes, and mouths.

Babies also put things, such as toys, in their mouths, and touch other babies while they are playing. Cold viruses can live on objects for several hours and can be picked up on the hands of other babies who touch the same object. If a baby touches something that has cold germs on it, then touches his or her mouth, eyes or nose, the germs can infect the baby.

Parents and caregivers who regularly pick up a child, change a diaper and feed the baby, can also pick up the cold virus and pass the germs to the baby.

Some cold viruses can be spread through the air when a sick baby coughs or sneezes. Droplets carrying cold germs from the cough or sneeze may reach another baby’s nose or mouth.


Why do babies get so many colds?

There are more than 100 different cold viruses. Babies have not yet built up their immune system to fight all of these germs. Before turning 2 years old, a baby can get as many as 8 to 10 colds a year. Most colds are seen in the fall and winter. That’s because children are indoors more and in close contact with other babies and caregivers who may have the cold virus.

What are the symptoms of the common cold in a baby?

Symptoms of a cold in a baby include:

  • Runny nose (the discharge may start out clear; later, it becomes thicker, and may be gray, yellow or green)
  • Sneezing
  • Fever (101-102 degrees Fahrenheit, 38.3-38.9 degrees Celsius)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased drooling because of sore throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Cough
  • Irritable
  • Slightly swollen glands

How do cold symptoms differ from flu symptoms, or some other illness?

If your child has any of the following symptoms, call your doctor. These symptoms could mean that the baby has something more serious than a cold:

  • Fever in an infant 2 months or younger
  • Difficulty breathing (especially if the baby’s nostrils widen with each breath), wheezing, fast breathing, or ribs showing with each breath
  • Blue lips
  • Not eating or drinking, possible dehydration
  • Ear pain
  • Excess crankiness or sleepiness
  • A cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
  • If the baby gets sicker


How are common colds in babies treated?

There is no cure for the common cold. Most colds go away on their own after about seven to 10 days and do not turn into something more serious.

Antibiotics cannot be used to treat colds. Sometimes, children may develop complications from bacteria, such as an ear infection or pneumonia, and antibiotics may then be used to treat these illnesses. Do not give the baby over-the-counter cough and cold medicines unless the doctor prescribes it.

To treat a common cold in babies:

  • Keep the baby comfortable.
  • Give the baby fluids. For babies 6 months or younger, let them drink breast milk or formula. At 6 months, the baby can also have some water.
  • Let the baby get plenty of rest.

Since most babies cannot blow their nose until about age 4, these methods may help ease the baby’s stuffy nose:

  • Use saline and suction. About 15 minutes before a feeding, use some over-the-counter saline (salt water) drops to loosen up the mucus in the baby’s nostrils. Suction out the liquid and mucus a few minutes later with rubber bulb. This will clear the mucus out of the baby’s nose and allow the baby to breathe and suck at the same time.
  • Dab petroleum jelly on the outside of the baby’s nostrils to reduce irritation. Do not block the inside of the baby’s nostrils. (Unless the doctor recommends it, do not use nasal sprays on the baby. They may work for a bit, but will make the congestion worse with continued use.)
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer to moisten the air in the baby’s room. The clean, cool mist will help moisten the air and decrease the drying of the baby’s nasal passages and throat. Clean and dry the humidifier thoroughly before using it to get rid of bacteria or mold that may have collected in the device. Do not use hot-water vaporizers because of the risk of burns.
  • Sit with the baby in a steamy room. If a humidifier is not available, an adult can take the baby into the bathroom, turn on the hot water, close the door, and sit together in the steamy room for about 15 minutes. Do not leave the baby alone in the room. Be safe around water. Giving the baby a warm bath may also work.

Babies can continue their normal activities, if they seem well enough to do so. If they have fever or complications, it is best to keep them at home.

If the baby is in daycare, tell the caregiver about any symptoms that the baby has. Be sure to make a plan on who will be available to stay home with the baby if the baby is ill.


How can colds in babies be prevented?

The best way to prevent a baby from catching a cold is to keep the baby away from people who have colds. If possible, keep the baby home. A virus that causes a mild illness in an older child or an adult can cause a more serious one in an infant.

Hand washing is the most important way to reduce the spread of colds:

  • Adults who have contact with babies and young children should wash their hands after coughing, sneezing or wiping their nose.
  • Wash hands after touching someone who has a cold.
  • After wiping the baby’s nose, an adult should wash his or her hands and the baby’s hands.
  • Clean toys regularly and avoid sharing toys that babies place in their mouths until the toys have been washed.
  • If water and soap are not available, use pre-moistened hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. (Be sure to keep hand sanitizers away from children. They may be harmful if swallowed.)

Keep the baby up-to-date on all of the recommended immunizations. These won’t stop colds, but can help prevent some of the complications, such as bacterial infections of the ears or lungs.

The influenza, or flu, vaccine is recommended each year for babies who are at least 6 months old. The shot protects against flu, but not against other respiratory viruses.


When should a doctor be called when a baby has a cold?

Call a doctor or take the baby to an emergency department if the baby:

  • Has trouble breathing
  • Is not eating
  • Is vomiting
  • Has a fever (rectal temperature of 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.5 degrees Celsius, or higher)

Cold Sore Treatment For Baby

What are Cold Sores?

Cold sores (also called fever blisters or oral herpes) start as small blisters that form around the lips and mouth. They sometimes appear on the chin, cheeks, and nose, too. After a few days, the blisters usually begin to ooze, then form a crust and heal completely in one to two weeks.

Despite their name, cold sores actually have nothing to do with colds. In children, cold sores are usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).  Genital herpes is usually caused by a different strain, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), although both virus strains can cause sores in any part of the body. 

Most people are first exposed to HSV between ages 1 and 5 years of age, and more than half of people in the United States are infected with it by the time they become adults. Beyond the uncomfortable sores that the virus can cause, HSV is usually harmless.

How Do Cold Sores Spread?

Cold sores are highly contagious. They can spread through saliva, skin-to-skin contact, or by touching an object handled by someone infected with the virus.

Primary HSV - ExampleWhen a child develops a cold sore for the first time (also called primary HSV), the blisters often spread beyond the lips to the mouth and gums. A child may also have a fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, sore throat, irritability and drooling. Sometimes symptoms are so mild, though, parents may not even notice any of them.

When problems can arise:

  • The virus from cold sores can spread to the eyes, which can  lead to HSV keratitis, an infection of the cornea—the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. The infection usually heals without damaging the eye, but more severe infections can lead to scarring of the cornea or blindness. HSV keratitis is a major cause of blindness worldwide.
  • HSV is especially dangerous to babies under 6 months of age. Parents or relatives with cold sores should be especially careful not to kiss babies—their immune systems are not well developed until after about 6 months old. Signs that a baby may have been infected with HSV include low grade fever and one or more small skin blisters. These symptoms can occur 2 to 12 days after HSV exposure. If these occur or if you have any concerns, call your pediatrician.

Do Cold Sores Come Back?

After a child’s first cold sore, the virus settles into bundles of nerve cells in the body—causing no symptoms unless it activates and travels back up to the skin’s surface. While the virus remains in the body for the rest of your life, the recurrence of cold sores is highly variable.  Some children may never get another cold sore, while others may have multiple outbreaks a year. When the virus does reactivate, cold sores tend form again at the same spot but usually not inside of the mouth.

The first signs of a flare up include tingling, itching, or burning where the cold sore moves toward the skin. Parents might notice their child keeps touching or scratching a spot on the lip that starts to swell and redden before sores form.

Common Cold Sore Triggers:

Once a child is infected with the cold sore virus, it is more likely to return during times when the body’s immune system is run down or the skin becomes irritated from other causes.

Common cold-sore triggers for children previously exposed to the virus include:

  • Fatigue and stress
  • Exposure to intense sunlight, heat, cold, or dryness
  • Injuries to or breaks in the skin
  • Illness (i.e., cold or flu)
  • Dehydration and poor diet
  • Fluctuating hormones (i.e., during a teen’s menstrual periods, etc.)

What Parents Can Do:

Although there is currently no cure for cold sores, the good news is that they go away on their own. Some may take a little longer than others to heal.  Cold sores are typically not treated, because the medications currently available only slightly speed up healing time. Parents can protect against the cold sores’ spread, help relieve the child’s discomfort during a flare-up, and try to avoid possible triggers.

Stop the spread.

  • Try to prevent your child from scratching or picking at cold sores. This can spread the virus to other parts of the body, such as fingers and eyes, as well as to other children who touch toys and other objects they play with. Wash hands and clean toys regularly. 
  • During a cold sore flare-up, don’t let your child share drinks or utensils, towels, toothpaste or other items to avoid spreading the infection through saliva. Also, wash items such as towels and linens in hot water after use.
  • Children usually can go to child care or school with an active infection, but your pediatrician may suggest keeping them home if they drool a lot or are having their very first HSV outbreak. See When to Keep Your Child Home from Child Care for more information.
  • If your child participates in sports that involve skin-to-skin contact such as wrestling, he or she should sit out during an active cold sore infection. Make sure mats and other equipment are cleaned regularly after use.

Ease discomfort.

  • Apply ice or a warm washcloth to the sores to help ease your child’s cold sore pain.
  • Chilled or icy treats such as smoothies may be soothing to tender lips and can help avoid dehydration.
  • Avoid giving your child acidic foods during a cold sore outbreak (e.g., citrus fruits or tomato sauce). These can irritate cold sores.
  • If your child’s cold sores continue to hurt—especially if he or she does not want to eat or drink because of mouth pain—ask your pediatrician about giving a pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your pediatrician may also suggest an over-the-counter cream or a prescription anti-viral cream to help reduce cold sore symptoms and shorten outbreaks by a day or two.

Avoid triggers.

  • Skin irritation can bring on a cold sore outbreak, so be sure your child uses lotion and a lip balm containing sunscreen or zinc oxide before heading outdoors. 
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep, exercise, and eats a well-balanced diet.
  • Help your child manage stress, which can increase the likelihood of cold sore outbreaks. 

When to See Your Pediatrician:

  • During your child’s first cold sore infection: This is especially recommended if your child has a known difficulty in fighting infections or a chronic skin condition such as eczema.
  • If your newborn develops a blister-like rash or fever: This could be symptoms of a dangerous, neonatal herpes simplex infection.
  • If there are sores or blisters near your child’s eyes: HSV is the most common cause of corneal infections.
  • If your child develops a headache, combined with confusion, seizure or fever during a cold sore outbreak: This could signal a dangerous brain infection caused by the virus, including meningitis or encephalitis.
  • If the sores do not heal on their own within seven to 10 days: Your pediatrician might want to rule out a secondary bacterial infection and/or any other medical condition.
  • If skin surrounding cold sores becomes reddened, swollen or feels hot to the touch: This may be signs of a secondary bacterial infection. Infection that spreads to the bloodstream and body-wide (sepsis) can also be a concern for children whose immune systems are weakened by certain diseases and medications.
  • If your child gets frequent cold sores: Children with more than five or six outbreaks a year might benefit from antiviral medications. Talk to your pediatrician about a prescription if your child’s outbreaks are frequent. 

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