Causes Of Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is caused by a herpes virus, which is contracted from another person while they have an oral herpes outbreak. Although HSV I can be transmitted during kissing or other intimate contact, many people contract the virus during childhood.
Typically, HSV I goes dormant after the first outbreak, but another outbreak can occur. This might be triggered by different types of stress, including:
- Emotional or mental stress.
- Another infection like a cold or the flu.
- Hormonal fluctuations, like from menstruation.
- Direct sunlight, especially a sunburn.
An outbreak may also have no specific cause. You may not realize outbreaks are coming at first, but you can eventually identify the symptoms before sores appear.
How Common Is Hsv
HSV-1 is a very common virus.According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.7 billion people aged 50 or under are infected by HSV-1, which amounts to around 67 percent of the global population within this age group.
HSV-1 is a common virus in both developed and developing countries. Most people infected with HSV-1 acquire it during childhood or young adulthood, with the typical age of acquisition ranging from five to nine years of age in Central Europe to 25+ in Northern Europe.
Rates of HSV-1 infection are highest in Africa, where WHO data estimates an 87 percent infection rate, and lowest in the Americas, where the infection rate is estimated at 40 percent to 50 percent.
Interestingly, women are slightly more likely to have HSV-1 than men , although the virus is very common in both sexes.
Simply put, HSV-1 is extremely common. The majority of the worlds populationparticularly people aged 50 or belowhave HSV-1, with most people experiencing few or no outbreaks despite being infected.
This means that if you have HSV-1, theres no reason to panic. Its a common virus that most people live with, and its effects are easy to control using widely available, affordable antiviral medicationlikevalacyclovir.
How Are Cold Sores In Children Treated
As the infection is self-limiting and the blisters heal in one to two weeks, the treatment is usually symptomatic or to just expedite the healing:
- Cold compresses to reduce inflammation
- Mouth gels for painful blisters, along with acetaminophen for fever and Ibuprofen for pain if required. Aspirin must never be given to a child.
- Soft, cold and non-spicy food for the child with more fluids.
- Apply sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen, and use an umbrella or hat for protection from the sun.
- Make sure your child doesnt share utensils, towels, and toys with anyone. These need to be washed with hot water after use. You as the primary caregiver need to wash your hands regularly so that you dont spread the infection to anyone.
A doctor must be consulted in case:
- The cold sores recur too often.
- The child is less than a year old.
- The immunity of the child is low.
- Any cold sores close to the eye
- If the blisters dont heal in two weeks time.
- The cold sores are accompanied by confusion, seizures or severe headache.
Don’t Miss: How To Know If Its Genital Herpes
Check If It’s A Cold Sore
A cold sore usually starts with a tingling, itching or burning feeling.
Over the next 48 hours:
Cold sores should start to heal within 10 days, but are contagious and may be irritating or painful while they heal.
Some people find that certain things trigger a cold sore, such as another illness, sunshine or menstrual periods.
Living With Oral Herpes
If you have oral herpes, its not easy to prevent cold sores, but there are some things you can do to make life easier.
- Try to avoid things that you know will trigger symptoms. For example, you could start wearing sunblock on your lips if you know that strong sunlight can trigger your cold sores.
- Stock up on any over-the-counter medicines that have helped in the past. If you have antiviral creams to hand, you can start applying them as soon as you feel symptoms starting. This should help speed up healing time.
- Prevent spreading the virus by avoiding close contact with other people when you have a cold sore. The blisters are very contagious, and can spread the virus even before theyve fully developed on the face.
Also Check: How To Treat Herpes Zoster
How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
How Does Genital Herpes Spread
The herpes virus that causes genital herpes spreads through saliva, semen and vaginal secretions. Its possible to get genital herpes from someone who doesnt have visible symptoms. You can have the infection, not know it and infect someone else.
Genital herpes can spread through:
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
You May Like: Does Planned Parenthood Check For Herpes
How Do Doctors Diagnose Oral Herpes
A doctor will base a presumptive diagnosis on information provided by the patient and on the physical examination. The characteristic appearance of the herpes sores leaves little doubt about the diagnosis, so the typical appearance of the sores is key to the diagnosis. This appearance helps distinguish oral herpes from oral thrush, shingles, gonorrhea, and syphilis. In addition, chapped or sunburned lips can resemble oral herpes, but the tissue stain shows no virus-induced cell changes. Further testing is usually not necessary but is sometimes done.
If a definitive diagnosis is needed, because, for example, the infection involves other organ systems, the doctor may conduct laboratory tests listed below:
- A sample from the sores to identify the virus as HSV
- A viral culture analysis
- A staining test called the Tzanck smear
- Antigen and antibody studies
Treatment & Prevention Of Oral Herpes
There is no cure for herpes, but most people who have oral herpes rarely experience severe problems from it. When you do have an outbreak, you can ease symptoms at home with these remedies:
- Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to ease pain and inflammation.
- Avoid irritants like sugary, acidic, or spicy food and drink.
- Avoid smoking, and consider avoiding alcohol.
- Avoid irritating commercial mouthwashes that contain alcohol, and replace them with a saltwater rinse.
- Keep the area moisturized. Consider using a topical over-the-counter lip ointment to ease itching and burning.
Rarely, symptoms can last for a long time, get worse, or spread. If symptoms do not go away after two weeks, the pain becomes severe, or the outbreak spreads to your eyes, you should contact a doctor immediately for help.
Doctors typically do not prescribe antiviral medication for oral herpes, but if you have frequent, severe, or very painful outbreaks, you may receive a prescription for oral medication to suppress the virus. If you have frequent outbreaks on your lips or the skin around your lips, you may receive a topical ointment to ease symptoms and reduce the outbreak. However, the ointments do not help outbreaks inside the mouth.
Oral herpes is a very common virus that rarely causes serious problems. If you experience the occasional outbreak, take care of yourself and prioritize your oral health.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Get Herpes
Are These The Only Herpes Viruses
There are actually several other subtypes of herpes viruses that are from the same family as HSV-1 and HSV-2. This family is known as Herpesviridae.
Alternatively, HSV-1 and HSV-2 are also known as human herpesvirus 1 and human herpesvirus 2 , respectively.
The other human herpesviruses include:
- Human herpesvirus 3 : Also known as the varicella zoster virus, this virus causes chickenpox lesions.
- Human herpesvirus 4 : Also known as the Epstein-Barr virus, this virus causes infectious mononucleosis.
- Human herpesvirus 5 : Also known as the cytomegalovirus, this virus causes symptoms such as fatigue and muscle aches.
- Human herpesvirus 6 : This virus can cause a serious illness in infants known as sixth disease, which is also called roseola infantum. The virus causes a high fever and distinctive rash.
- Human herpesvirus 7 : This virus is similar to HHV-6 and can cause some cases of roseola.
- Human herpesvirus 8 : This virus can contribute to a serious illness known as Kaposi sarcoma, which can lead to connective tissue cancer.
Many of these subtypes are contracted in childhood.
How Does Someone Get Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is transmitted through direct contact between the contagious area and broken skin and mucous membrane tissue . In other words, HSV can be passed on through kissing or oral sex.
Herpes can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. There are several days throughout the year when the virus reactivates yet causes no symptoms .
If a person is experiencing symptoms orally, we recommend abstaining from performing oral sex and kissing others directly on the mouth until signs have healed and the skin looks normal again. Because most adults have oral herpes, we dont suggest that a person should stop giving or receiving affection altogether between outbreaks simply because they have oral herpes. However, using a barrier or condom when performing oral sex can reduce the risk of contracting genital herpes.
By performing oral sex on someone who has genital herpes, it would be possible to contract oral herpes but this is rare. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2, which rarely affects the mouth or face. Also, and even more importantly, most adults already have oral HSV-1, contracted as a child through kissing relatives or friends.
Also Check: Can I Spread Genital Herpes To Myself
How To Have Oral Sex
- Like all sex, different people enjoy different things.
- There is very little risk of HIV infection from oral sex but other sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, gonorrhoea and syphilis are easily passed on.
- Using a condom or a dental dam helps to protect you from STIs.
Going down, rimming and blow jobs are some of the many ways of describing oral sex. But whats the best way to do it?
Whether you are thinking about having oral sex for the first time or just want some more information read on for tips on how enjoy safe oral sex
What Causes Cold Sores
The herpes simplex virus type 1 causes cold sores. This is a different from herpes simplex virus type 2 . HSV-2 causes lesions in the genital area called genital herpes. Even though HSV-1 typically causes sores around the mouth and HSV-2 causes genital sores, these viruses can cause sores in either place.
Recommended Reading: How To Know If You Have Herpes
Recommended Reading: Does Urgent Care Do Herpes Testing
Stages Of Oral Herpes
There are three main stages of oral herpes:
- Primary infection: This stage consists of the initial contraction of the virus.
- Latency: When the infection enters the latency phase, it is dormant and symptoms are absent.
- Recurrence: Following the primary infection and periods of latency, outbreaks can recur.
Take Charge Of Your Health
Oral herpes can be transmitted by kissing, sharing eating utensils or drinks, or during sex. Since oral herpes can be contracted from both Type 1 and Type 2 strains of the Herpes Simplex Virus, our doctors recommend getting tested for both of these HSV strains at the same time.
or call 1-800-456-2323 or start a Live Chat
You May Like: Dr Sebi Curr For Herpes
How Hsv Is Transmitted
The herpes simplex virus spreads between people, usually through contact with saliva or direct contact with a blister. The most infectious time is in the first few days when the blister is forming. Sometimes, people can pass the virus to others when they have no symptoms. This is because the virus may be lying dormant in the skin cells of the lips.
Myth #: Herpes Is Only A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Fact: Not all cases of herpes spread through sex. HSV-1 often spreads through contact with the skin or saliva of a person who has the infection.
For instance, people can spread it by kissing, sharing utensils, touching an infected surface, or having skin-to-skin contact.
According to the CDC, who have HSV-1, which can cause cold sores, got it during childhood from nonsexual contact, such as receiving a kiss from a family member.
According to the WHO, however, HSV-2 is .
Dont Miss: How To Dry Up Herpes
Read Also: What Makes Herpes Flare Up
Medical Treatment For Oral Herpes
Oral herpes symptoms may resolve without treatment within one to two weeks.
If needed, your healthcare provider will prescribe certain antiviral medications to treat your condition. These medications help with any pain you may be experiencing as well as alleviate symptoms more quickly.
Medications that are used to treat HSV-1 include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, which are most effective if taken when initial warning signs of an incoming flare-up appear and before blisters develop.
Herpes Is A Common Infection
Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. So chances are a few people you know are living with herpes.
Theres no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. And the good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, its not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.
Read Also: How To Detect Herpes Virus
How Common Is Simplex One Oral Herpes
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
Read Also: How Long Does It Take To Test For Herpes
How Common Is Herpes Simplex Virus Of The Mouth
Oral herpes is very common.
According to the National Institutes of Health , about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by the time theyre 50.1 But this doesnt mean they have it.
Some people are exposed but never contract the virus, while others catch it immediately after exposure.
Statistics show that as of 2016, an estimated 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, or 67% of the global population, had an oral or genital HSV-1 infection.
The highest prevalence of the infection was in Africa and the lowest was in the Americas .2
Return To The Emergency Department If:
- You get a fever, feel achy, or see pus instead of clear fluid in the sores.
- You get sores on your eyes.
- You have abdominal pain, a severe headache, or confusion.
- You get new symptoms, or old symptoms return after you have been treated.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Don’t Miss: How To Control Herpes Breakouts