Herpes in the mouth

Oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). 


The virus causes painful sores on your lips, gums, tongue roof of your mouth, and inside your cheeks.

Herpes in the mouth

Causes of Oral Herpes

Oral Herpes is spread most commonly from individuals with an active outbreak or sore. You can catch oral herpes by engaging in intimate or personal contact (e.g., kissing or oral sex) with someone who is infected.


Herpes can be passed even if the penis or tongue doesn’t go all the way in the vagina, anus, or mouth. You don’t have to cum to spread herpes. All it takes is some quick skin-to-skin touching.

Other areas of skin may get infected if there’s a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores. You don’t have to have sex to get herpes. Sometimes herpes can be passed in non-sexual ways, like if a parent with a cold sore gives you a peck on the lips. Yes

Symptoms of Oral Herpes

A cold sore usually passes through several stages:

  • Tingling and itching. Many people feel itching, burning or tingling around the lips for a day or so before a small, hard, painful spot appears and blisters erupt.
  • Blisters. Small fluid-filled blisters typically erupt along the border of your lips. Sometimes they appear around the nose or cheeks or inside the mouth.
  • Oozing and crusting. The small blisters may merge and then burst, leaving shallow open sores that ooze and crust over.

Signs and symptoms vary, depending on whether this is your first outbreak or a recurrence. The first time you have a cold sore, symptoms may not start for up to 20 days after you were first exposed to the virus. The sores can last several days, and the blisters can take two to three weeks to heal completely. Recurrences typically appear at the same spot each time and tend to be less severe than the first outbreak.


In a first-time outbreak, you also might experience:

  • Fever
  • Painful gums
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Oral Herpes Treatment Self-Care at Home

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Keeping the infected area clean and dry
  • Taking antiviral oral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir (these medications are traditionally the most effective)
  • Applying antiviral topical ointments, such as acyclovir and penciclovir
  • Using over-the-counter topical anesthetics or anti-inflammatory agents to alleviate symptoms.


To help avoid spreading cold sores to other people or to other parts of your body, you might try some of the following precautions:

  • Avoid kissing and skin contact with people while blisters are present. The virus spreads most easily when the blisters leak fluid.
  • Avoid sharing items. Utensils, towels, lip balm and other personal items can spread the virus when blisters are present.
  • Keep your hands clean. When you have a cold sore, wash your hands carefully before touching yourself and other people, especially babies.

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