Oral herpes is an infection that develops due to the presence of the herpes simplex virus.
This virus often causes painful sores on your lips, gums, tongue, the roof of your mouth, and insides of your cheeks.
Moreover, it can also cause other symptoms like a fever and muscle aches.
The herpes simplex virus or HSV is an infection and can appear in various parts of your body as well.
However, it is important to note that it most commonly affects your mouth or your genitals.
There are two types of viruses. These are:
HSV-1: This primarily causes oral herpes and is responsible for cold sores and fever blisters around your mouth and on the face.
HSV-2: This one causes genital herpes and is responsible for genital herpes outbreaks.
Keep on reading to learn more about oral herpes in detail.
Causes of Oral Herpes
It is important to note that oral herpes or herpes simplex virus is a contagious virus and can transmit from one person to another through direct contact.
Moreover, children can often contract HSV-q from early contact with an adult who already has this infection.
Thus, they can carry this virus for the rest of their lives.
Causes of HSV-1 are as follows:
HSV-1 is often contracted from general interactions like eating in the same utensils, sharing lip balm, kissing, etc.
More importantly, this virus spreads more quickly than an outbreak.
According to estimates, 67% of the individuals of ages 49 or younger are seropositive for HSV-1.
Though they may never experience an outbreak.
Moreover, it is possible to also get genital herpes from HSV-1 if someone who had cold sores.
On the other hand, HSV-2 passes from one person to another from sexual contact.
It is important to note that about 20% of sexually active individuals in the United States have this infection according to the American Academy of Dermatology, AAD.
Moreover, it can also spread through contact with a herpes sore.
However, most individuals get HSV-1 from a person with an infection who is asymptomatic or does not have a sore.
Risk of Developing Oral Herpes
Regardless of age, anyone can contract HSV. You are at a risk entirely of exposure to the infection.
In cases of sexually transmitted HSV, you are more at risk when you do not have protected sex.
Other risk factors are having sex at a younger age, being female, having other sexually transmitted infections, STI, and a weak immune system.
Moreover, if a conceiving woman is having an outbreak of genital herpes at the time of childbirth, then it can expose both the baby and the moth to both types of HSV.
Additionally, it can put them both at risk for serious complications.
Oral Herpes Symptoms
It is important to note that the incubation period for oral herpes is the time between contact with the virus and the appearance of symptoms.
Therefore, the incubation period is about 2 to 12 days.
However, you may notice that in most cases, individuals develop symptoms within 4 days.
Duration of Illness
Signs and symptoms of oral herpes last about 2 to 3 weeks.
Fever, tiredness, muscle aches, and irritability may also occur.
Pain, burning, tingling, or itching occurs at the site of infection before the sores appear.
Then clusters of blisters erupt and break down rapidly.
Moreover, they may also appear as tiny, shallow, gray ulcers or a red base, and after a few days, they can become crusted or scabbed and appear drier and more yellow.
On the other hand, oral sores can cause intense pain at the onset and can also make eating and drinking difficult.
These often appear on the lips, gums, the front of the tongue, the insides of the cheek, etc.
In some cases, they can also extend down the neck and chin, your gums may rapidly become mildly swollen and may also bleed.
The lymph nodes may also swell and become painful
Individuals of age in their teens and 20s may have a painful throat with shallow ulcers and grayish coating on the tonsils.
Stages of Development
Sores that appear as a result of oral herpes undergoes 5 stages;
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Tingling and itching occur about 24 hours before blisters erupt in Stage 1.
Fluid-filled blisters appear in Stage 2.
During Stage 3, the blisters burst, ooze, and form painful sores.
The sores dry out and scab over causing itching and cracking during Stage 4.
During Stage 5, the scabs fall off and the sores heal.
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Diagnosis of Oral Herpes
This type of herpes is commonly diagnosed with a physical exam.
Your doctor may check your body for sores and ask you some of the symptoms you might be facing.
The doctor might also check for HSV testing. This testing is known as a herpes culture. It helps confirm the diagnosis if you have any sores present on your genitals.
HSV-1 and HSV-2 blood tests can help in diagnosing the infections. If there are no sores present on your body then these tests are extremely helpful.
At-home testing kits are also available for herpes simplex.
Seeking Medical Help for Oral Herpes
As cold sores are painful, you may often find it difficult to eat or drink.
Thus, to prevent dehydration, you need to call your doctor.
Moreover, call your doctor immediately if the following symptoms occur:
A decrease in urination, drowsiness, irritability, or dry mouth.
Call your doctor or Arabic female dentist if you or your child are not sure what the sores are.
If your child is younger than 8 weeks, then make sure to notify your doctor when sores begin to appear.
A severe infection or disease complications can occur in infants.
For example, apart from infecting the mouth, the herpes simplex virus may affect the brain and cause damage.
Additionally, if you have a weak immune system, you should visit your doctor when the sore begins to appear.
Your immune system protects you from infections and fights disease.
However, when it weakens, you are more likely to have a severe infection or disease complication.
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Treatment for Oral Herpes
Treatment for oral herpes includes taking medications for fever and plenty o fluids.
Your doctor may prescribe topical anesthetic like viscous lidocaine to relieve pain.
On the other hand, oral or IV medication can also help for herpes, however, most doctors do not recommend it if you have a normal immune system.
It is important to note that your doctor will prescribe this medication, only if you have a weak immune system.
For infants younger than 6 weeks or if you have a severe herpes infection.
In some cases, you may need hospital admission.
The cases include severe local infection. if the infection is affecting other organs, weak immune system, and dehydration.
Outlook for Herpes Simples
If you contract this virus, you will suffer from HSV for the rest of your life.
Even if the virus does not manifest the symptoms, the virus will continue to live in your nerve cells.
In some cases, you may experience regular outbreaks.
On the other hand, you may be one of those individuals who experience an outbreak once in their lives and the virus may become dormant.
Even if it is dormant, certain stimuli can trigger the outbreak and these triggers are:
- menstrual periods
- fever or illness
- sun exposure or sunburns
Moreover, many doctors and dentists believe that the outbreaks may become intense over time as your body starts to create antibodies.
If a generally healthy person contracts the virus, there are often no complications.
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Preventing the Spread of Oral Herpes
Though there is no cure for herpes, you can take certain preventive measures to avoid contracting or prevent transmitting HSV to someone else.
Thus, if you are experiencing an outbreak o HSV-1, consider taking the following preventive steps:
Try to avoid direct physical contact with other individuals, do not share items like cups, towels, utensils, clothing, etc, to avoid passing the virus.
Do not participate in any type of sexual activity during an outbreak.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and apply medications with a cotton swab to reduce contact with sores.
It is important to note that individuals with HSV-2 should avoid sexual activity during an outbreak.
If the individual is not experiencing any symptoms, however, has a diagnosis, then should take preventive measures during intercourse.
Women who are pregnant and have an infection may need to take medications to prevent the virus from infecting the unborn baby.
Complications of Oral Herpes
It is important to note that certain medical conditions or treatment that weakens your immune system can increase the risk of severe complications from the virus.
These complications include:
- complications from the use of steroids
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Oral herpes is an infection that develops due to HSV-1 infection and can also result from HSV-2 infection. It most often occurs when you come in direct contact with an infected person, their saliva, mucous membranes, or skin at any age and any time of the year.
It is important to note that there is no cure for this infection. You may experience the symptoms during the outbreak or once after contracting the infection and then it goes dormant.
It is important to consult your doctor as in some cases it can even cause complications and lead to conditions like HIV and cancer. Therefore, preventing it from spreading and taking precautionary measures is important to stop its transmission.