Also commonly referred to as Gingivostomatitis, Herpetic Gingivostomatitis is a viral infection that mainly affects the mouth. The condition is quite common in children and toddlers. Then again, there are adults who have been diagnosed with the disease.

What Causes the Disease?

Herpetic Gingivostomatitis is triggered by a virus referred to as HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus – Type 1). In contrast to the other forms of herpes viruses that are transmitted through sexual intercourse, Herpetic Gingivostomatitis is not a sexually transmitted. Nevertheless, the virus is closely linked to other herpes viruses that are sexually transmitted. The virus is passed from one person to the other via physical contact. Infection occurs when the contaminated saliva is passed from a carrier to a different person. Transmission often occurs through sharing of utensils such as bottles and cups, sucking of the thumbs and placing of toys in the mouth.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

The condition is usually characterized by cold sores that appear on the mouth. The sores are normally preceded by high fevers. Sores usually appear on the lips, inner cheeks, gums, upper roof of the mouth and tongue. Infected gums are not only inflamed, but bleed with relative ease.

Besides the symptoms mentioned above, blisters are also formed in the mouths of a number of patients. Rapturing of the blisters has also been known for causing ulcerations. Bleeding of the gums can also lead to inflammation within the mouth, thereby making eating and swallowing of both solid and liquid foods difficult.

During the first bout, the disease can be quite painful, especially amongst children. Early signs of infection in children and toddlers include crying, restlessness and problems with feeding. The instant lesions start to appear, the child may drool a lot and become irritable. Though quite rare, inflamed lymph nodes can also appear.

How is the Condition Diagnosed?

Since the condition is quite common, chances are that your healthcare provide will diagnose it during routine checkup. Whereas tests are not required in order to confirm the disease, your doctor may do a lab test just to verify that you are suffering from Herpetic Gingivostomatitis.

Does the Condition Last for a Long Time?

The fever can take a couple of days to clear. However, the pain and sores in the mouth take up to 5 days to clear. Then again, it takes up to 2 weeks for the sores to heal properly.

Once the sores in the mouth have healed, the virus will stay dormant in the body and will be reactivated when the immune system is weakened. The good news is that the relapse is not severe as the initial infection. When the sores reappear on the lips, they are commonly referred to as “cold sores”.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Given that the condition can lead to severe dehydration, it is important that you consult a doctor as soon as you notice one or more of the symptoms listed above. Nevertheless, you need to see a doctor if:

– There are formations of blisters around the eye.

– It has been more than eight hours since your child last urinated.

– Your child is increasingly becoming restless.

What is the Treatment for Herpetic Gingivostomatitis?

More than often, your doctor will prescribe a topical numbing medication to apply on the mouth as the infection can cause problems with eating and swallowing. If the sores are quite painful, your doctor may prescribe medications to ease the pain. Older children can be given soothing mouthwashes so as to ease the itching, pain and irritation inside the mouth. While the condition takes roughly 2 weeks to clear, supportive medication can help ease the signs and symptoms.


  1. dawn

    Hi I have ever been diagnosed with herpes simplex and Gingivastomititis and I’m 31. It started as a fever and the following day my mouth broke out in white patches at the back of my throat, swollen glands, ulcers. I’m in absolute agony with it and I have not been able to eat for 5 days.
    It’s so hard and painful to brush my teeth and the discomfort is unreal. I just want it to go away, been on antibiotics for 2 days and still feel no better

  2. Jason

    Hi Dawn,

    I just wanted to let you know, and others who might be experiencing this as an adult, that this is a very real thing that can affect adults who have never contracted oral herpes before as children.

    The symptoms are indeed agonizing, and at first the fear of not knowing what is going on can be pretty powerful, especially given the rapid onset of the symptoms. I just want those who are also potentially suffering from this disease to know, that it WILL get better, eventually.

    I recommend getting Ensure Plus shakes for your dietary needs, as certainly the most difficult aspect of this disease is eating any sort of solid food at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *