What Is Oral Herpes?

A herpes infection on or in the mouth is called oral herpes. An infection in the genital area is called genital herpes. Both can be sexually transmitted.

Oral and genital herpes sores look very similar but occur on different parts of the body. Oral herpes causes cold sores or fever blisters on the lips or inside the mouth. The sores typically look like tiny, clear, fluid-filled blisters on the face (most commonly the lips).

Before the blisters flare up, the soon-to-be infected area may itch or become very sensitive. Children pick up oral herpes very easily by sharing drinking glasses or from good night kisses from parents who have oral herpes. The sores can usually clear themselves in seven to twelve days. The sores can also return up to six times a year or more.

Sometimes, they may not even return for years if not ever. The primary infection rarely causes a scar. Even though the outbreak may seam to be gone the virus itself that caused the outbreak remains in the body. Oral herpes does not always have symptoms either. The virus is more contagious if an outbreak is present although it is possible to for the virus to spread even when no outbreak is visible, but less likely.

Oral herpes is most contagious until sores have completely healed and scabs are completely gone. Before an outbreak occurs applying ice to the area that is starting to itch or that is sensitive. This may help with potential swelling of the blister. Place an ice cube in a damp cloth and apply it on the affected area for five minutes. Reapply every hour. After apply the ice remember to wash hands so the virus is not spread to another area of the body such as the eyes or genitals.

To prevent the spread of oral herpes wash your hands frequently and avoid touching the affected area. This is especially important because you do not want to spread the herpes to the eyes. Herpes can be fatal to an infant since their immune systems are not yet capable of handling an infection like this so take extra precautions around them. Although it is just an annoyance, and sometimes a painful one, for some people it can be life threatening if they have an impaired immune system, such as those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, with AIDS or HIV, someone with a bone marrow transplant, or someone undergoing radiation therapy.

Avoid urges of kissing anyone while an outbreak is present and don't share drinking glasses. Outbreaks of oral herpes can be triggered by sunburn on the lips, fever, or anything that lowers the body's resistance to infection. Certain foods can cause outbreaks as well. If a lesion from oral herpes exists dental visits should be rescheduled. Oral herpes can be controlled and treated. Oral herpes can be embarrassing to many but simple acts can prevent further spread of oral herpes and make life less stressful for the carrier.

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