Mouth herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus class HSV -1. It is also called oral herpes or type 1 herpes simplex virus. This is a virus that causes not just mouth herpes but may also cause painful sores on the gums, tongue and the roof of the mouth. Lesions may also be seen on the neck and the face.
Mouth herpes is also characterized by exposure without noticeable infection. It is estimated that about 65% of the population of the United States has antibodies to HSV – 1 by age 40. HSV-1 affects only humans with mouth sores very common in very young children age 1 to 2 years old. This infection can occur at any age and may happen in any season of the year.
The most common mode of spreading the infection is through touching infected saliva, mucous secretions and oozing liquid from skin lesions. The herpes simplex virus attacks the body in stages starting from a primary infection, latency phase and the recurring phase when virus reactivates into another infection. Aggravating factors like stress, fatigue, hormonal changes and immune depression can make the infection recur.
Symptoms of mouth herpes
Classic flu-like symptoms like fever, colds, sore throat, headaches and inflamed lymph nodes are very common. Fever and all other symptoms may last for a few days and lesions occur afterwards; there are small painful lesions that are seen around the lips, the roof of the mouth, the gums and on the tongue. Aside from being painful, these lesions erupt and will crust and scab after they dry. It is also very common to see lesions on the neck and on the chin.
Symptoms of mouth herpes will last for two to three weeks. The infection is mostly self-limiting which means the infection can resolve on its own even without medical treatment.
Treatments of mouth herpes
Antiviral medications are used to treat mouth herpes. Symptoms are treated as necessary.
· Fever and flu-like symptoms are treated by taking fever and pain medications. Sponge baths are also perfect to reduce very high fevers.
· Drink plenty of water or fluids to prevent dehydration during episodes of very high fevers.
· Eat healthier by eating more fruits and vegetables and by taking vitamin supplements.
· Reduce stress and take enough sleep to allow the body to recover from stress.
· Pain over the area with lesions may be reduced by taking pain medications and by applying cold compress. There are several remedies to help reduce the pain and itching of the areas with lesions like using cornstarch paste and aloe vera paste.
Prevention is the best way to reduce spread of the herpes simplex virus. Do not share personal items and food with other people. Do not pick or scratch your lesions since this is a great way to infect your lesions. Always maintain good hygiene and wash your hands after holding your mouth or coughing. Use a handkerchief and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Young children infected with herpes simplex virus should seek consultation right away.