Recognizing And Treating The Early Stages Of Herpes On The Mouth

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Recognizing the early stages of herpes on the mouth ensures that an outbreak can be treated as quickly and effectively as possible. Known as oral herpes or “cold sores”, mouth herpes are easily spread through skin contact or bodily fluid exchanges. Though these sores can cause pain and discomfort, early detection of symptoms and prompt treatment can ease the discomfort of outbreaks.

Causes Of Mouth Herpes

Mouth herpes most commonly develop from a contagious condition known as herpes simplex virus 1. In rare cases, herpes simplex virus 2 (most often linked to genital herpes) may cause cold sores as well. Once contracted, the herpes simplex virus may lie dormant for prolonged periods of time in between outbreaks of sores. These outbreaks can be triggered by factors such as hormonal changes, stress, or illness.

Mouth herpes is spread from person to person through:

--touching a cold sore

--kissing/exchanging saliva with an infected person

--sharing utensils

Recognizing Early Symptoms

The initial symptoms of oral herpes may be difficult for a person to identify if he or she has never had an outbreak in the past. Because herpes outbreaks are most effectively treated when caught early, people who have possibly been exposed to the virus should be aware of these early warning signs:

--sore throat


--mouth or lip pain

--swollen neck glands

--tingling and burning under the surface of the skin

--red bumps (first sign of blisters)

Cold sores most often develop near or inside the mouth and nose area. The initial red bumps form blisters that excrete clear fluid and scab over within a few days' time.

Seeking A Diagnosis

People who are concerned about early symptoms of mouth herpes should visit a physician and ask to be tested for the virus. Patients should be prepared to provide the doctor with information regarding possible exposure to the virus. Though a doctor can usually recognize active cold sores through a physical examination, herpes simplex virus 1 is formally diagnosed through laboratory tests. Typically, a doctor extracts a fluid sample from an open sore and runs a culture or smear test to confirm the presence of the virus. Once a diagnosis is made, a patient with herpes on the mouth can explore treatment methods.

Treatment For Mouth Herpes

Cold sores generally begin healing anywhere from a few days to a week after an outbreak occurs. Pain, discomfort, or irritation that develops as the result of a herpes outbreak can be treated with:

--topical creams such as Denavir (penciclovir) and Zovirax (acyclovir). These creams work to heal the sores at a more rapid pace and are most effective when first applied shortly after an outbreak.

--medications such as Valtrex (valacyclovir) and Famvir (famciclovir). Herpes medications should be started when symptoms first become apparent, as this will decrease the duration of the infection.

--ice pack applications.

--over-the-counter pain pills (ibuprofen or acetaminophen).

--alternative treatments such as lysine supplements.

Those who suspect that they are newly experiencing the early stages of herpes on the mouth should see a doctor and seek a laboratory diagnosis. People who are affected by outbreaks of oral herpes can manage living with the virus best by consistently paying attention to early symptoms and administering the recommended treatment.




  3. Web MD–