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FAQ: Oral Herpes Print E-mail
Written by Jessica Smith   
Friday, 30 October 2009

Oral herpes is a common condition that shows up as blisters in the mouth or the area around it. They usually develop on the gums, roof of the mouth, outside of the lips, or the nostrils. Oral herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type I, or HSV-1.

What is going on in the body?

Oral herpes occurs in two stages: primary infection and recurrence of infection. At some time during childhood, most people come down with the primary infection. The individual may or may not have symptoms. This primary infection takes about two weeks to clear up. After that, the virus remains in the body but is inactive.

After this primary infection, a recurrence can happen at any time. Many outbreaks occur without any obvious reason. However, the following factors may trigger a recurrence:
- being tired or rundown
- dental work
- emotional stress
- exposure to sunlight
- an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or flu

What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Oral herpes is caused by the HSV-1 virus. People in the following categories may be more at risk for oral herpes:
- people undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy
- people with cancer or other debilitating diseases
- people with HIV or other immunodeficiency disordersWhat are the treatments for the disease?

In most cases, sores caused by oral herpes are self-limiting. They will usually crust over and go away in about two weeks. If they last longer, the healthcare professional should be consulted. Treatment for oral herpes includes the following:
- diluted, or 1 1/2%, hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse
- lip balm to soothe sores on the lips
- penciclovir cream, which is applied every two hours
- prescription antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir
- salt-water rinse, with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water
- sunblock cream for lip protection

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Antiviral medications may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and allergic reactions.

What happens after treatment for the disease?
The sores usually clear up and go away in about two weeks. If they last longer than this or if they come back often, the healthcare provider should be consulted.

How is the condition monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.


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The content provided in this site is strictly for you to be able to find helpful information on improving your life and health. None of the information here is to be construed as medical advice. Only a Doctor can give you medical advice.