Oral Herpes: Symptoms, Complications, Testing, and Treatment


Oral Herpes Symptoms


The most prominent symptom is the occurrence of painful cold sores around the mouth. However, herpes infection might also not cause noticeable symptoms. The cold sores are filled with yellow fluid and may form a cluster. Blisters may often pop and leak.  While cold sores are not always caused by the herpes virus, most people with cold sores on their face do suffer from herpes. In very young children the symptoms are most noticeable. In older patients, the symptoms can range from none to mild and severe. The symptoms usually develop within 20 days of infection and can last for as many days. Burning and itching of the skin around the mouth is one of the most common symptoms of oral herpes.  Before the cold sores develop, many people experience throat discomfort such as difficulty in swallowing and sore throat.


Oral Herpes Risks & Complications


Herpes might cause a cluster of blisters around the mouth, which are painful. Known as an outbreak, the blisters may subside in a few days, only to recur a few months or even after years. The outbreaks are often triggered by factors such as stress or hormonal imbalance. The outbreaks can be dangerous if they spread to other parts of the skin such as near the eyes or they occur when your body is weak due to any kind of disease.


Oral Herpes Testing


Cold sores are often the easiest way to diagnose herpes. However, you would need to confirm it with blood tests. A sample of the fluid from the cold sore might also be tested to check for the type of infection your body is fighting. A blood test helps confirm if you have Herpes 1 or Herpes 2 type infection. A viral culture test helps identify the virus. A test for identifying antibodies helps look for the type of infection that the antibodies are responding to.


Oral Herpes Treatment


Oral herpes symptoms may subside in a few weeks without treatment. That said, your doctor might want to prescribe medications to eliminate or weaken the virus. Usually antiviral medications are prescribed to fight the viral infection. For painful sores, the doctor may recommend medications such as acyclovir. Depending in the frequency of outbreaks, you would be asked to take the medicine before you feel the onset of an outbreak such as when you notice sores starting to take form. To lessen discomfort, you can apply ice to the sores, wash with antiseptic solutions and avoid eating greasy, spicy foods.


Getting tested for oral herpes will help you find suitable treatment options, if you test positive. With proper care and medications, the symptoms can be managed.

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