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Preventing and Not Spreading Cold Sores continued...

If your teen keeps getting cold sores, talk to your doctor. An antiviral medication in pill form is also available by prescription for serious infections. If your teen has symptoms of a cold sore, tell him to avoid kissing people to prevent spreading the virus. Don't share drinking glasses, spoons and forks, toothbrushes, or other items that can spread it.

What to expect: Cold sores go away on their own. But because the virus can hang out in nerve cells, they may come back. Luckily, they tend to get less severe over time.

Don't Kiss Off Strep Throat

Strep throat is an especially painful form of a sore throat, caused by a highly contagious form of bacteria. Strep throat infections are most common between the ages of 5 and 18. Although strep throat is most frequent between late fall and early spring, your teen can get it at any time of year.

What strep throat feels like: Strep throat feels like a really bad sore throat. Your teen may notice that her tonsils are inflamed. She may also see yellow or white patches at the back of her throat. Strep often causes a fever.

What to do:  If you think your teen may have strep, call your doctor. Strep throat needs to be treated with antibiotics. Otherwise, it can lead to serious problems. Gargling with salt water or sucking on throat lozenges will help ease the pain. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will reduce a fever.

What to expect: With antibiotic treatment, strep throat can last a week or two. Untreated, strep throat can lead to more serious infections such as rheumatic fever or kidney disease. That's why it's so important to see your doctor if your teen has a severe sore throat.

Other Infections: Athlete's Foot and Jock Itch

Your teen can get these common fungal infections by exposure to damp areas like locker rooms and swimming pools, or in the case of athlete's foot, by sharing shoes with someone who has it. 

What they feel like: Athlete's foot causes itchy, cracking sores between the toes and sometimes on the soles of the feet. Jock itch causes similar itchy, cracking sores in the groin. The sores may weep and smell nasty. Athlete's foot can also cause redness on the bottom and sides of the foot. This form is called moccasin athlete's foot.

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