Diagnosing your toddler's mouth sores is ultimately your dentist's or your child's paediatrician's job, but it helps to have some knowledge about mouth sores and the types of treatments available for your child.Here's how to determine whether that mouth sore your poor tot is nursing is a common malady or a cause for concern, as well as some tips for soothing your irritable child's discomfort.
4 Types of Toddler Mouth Sores
Mouth sores, also known as ulcers, present in four ways. The National Health Portal of India explains that mouth ulcers are called stomatitis in the medical terminology. This is due to an inflammation of the mucous membrane of mouth including lips, with or without oral ulceration. There are two main forms of stomatitis. These are herpes stomatitis and aphthous stomatitis. Both forms usually occur more often in children and teens. Herpes stomatitis is an infection, usually in young children between the ages of six months and 5 years. Aphthous stomatitis is much more common in young people, most often between 10 and 19 years old. This is also called canker sores. They are one or a cluster of small pits or ulcers in the cheeks, gums, the inside of the lips, or on the tongue. Herpes stomatitis is caused by infection of the HSV1 virus in young children. Aphthous stomatitis is caused by a variety of problems with oral hygiene or damage to mucous membranes. Cold sores, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), and mouth injuries can also cause sores.
- Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are round ulcers that develop inside your mouth's soft tissue. They can be red, white or grey. Canker sores can be painful and disturb eating and sleeping, but they aren't contagious. The National Health Portal of India further notes that the entire infection lasts between 7-10 days.
- Cold sores are contagious and appear as fluid-filled blisters. Upon a first outbreak, your tot may have a fever and appear lethargic and in pain, as well.
- Hand, foot and mouth disease typically presents as red blisters inside the mouth and on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It also involves a fever and lack of energy.
- Most mouth injuries and burns appear red in the beginning and turn white when healing.
Why Toddlers Get Mouth Sores
Unfortunately, toddlers are just as susceptible to mouth sores as adults. Canker sores, the most common type, can be caused by stress, lack of rest and immune disorders, though experts aren't sure exactly why they occur.Cold sores spring up both inside and outside the mouth. They typically appear around your child's lips and the skin around their mouth. But upon a first outbreak, they can also appear inside the mouth.
Cold sores are a form of herpes simplex virus type 1, a contagious virus passed through contact. In children, cold sores are usually caused by transmission from an adult. So, hard as it may be to avoid cuddling your tot, be aware that if you think you have the virus, it's best to refrain from that goodnight kiss when a sore is present. Likewise, speak to your doctor about breastfeeding if you think you've had an outbreak.
The National Centre for Disease Control notes that hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a human syndrome caused by intestinal viruses of the Picornaviridae family. The most common strain scausing HFMD are Coxsackie A virus and Enterovirus71 (EV71). It's infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with infectious virus which is found in the nose and throat secretions, saliva, blister fluid, and stool of infected persons. HFMD is a minor ailment and should subside within a week.Since cold sores and HFMD are very contagious, you'll want to avoid direct contact with anyone who has active ulcers.Injuries to the mouth are a common result of toddler activities. Brushing too hard can be one cause. A burn may be another if, for example, your toddler can't wait to dive into that plate of hot pasta.
Treating Toddler Mouth Sores
Your doctor might recommend an antiviral medicine to hasten a cold sore's healing. They may also do further testing on canker sores that are very large or ones that have taken an unusually long time to heal.The keys to home comfort and care are cold foods, hydration, rest and letting the sore run its course. Check with your doctor about acetaminophen, ibuprofen and antacid dosages, all of which may alleviate discomfort. A small dab of witch hazel has also been known to help with inflammation and pain relief on soft tissues, but be sure to get your doctor's feedback first.
When to Call a Doctor
The National Centre for Disease Control further advises the parents to consult a doctor early if their child has symptoms of HFMD. They should also be alert to any change in their child’s normal behaviour, e.g. irritation and sleepiness. If they refuse to eat or drink, have persistent vomiting or drowsiness, parents should bring their child immediately to a hospital. Otherwise, show your child some extra TLC and take a wait-and-see approach.;