Herpes on tongue refers to a form of oral herpes, the viral disease characterized by formation of painful blisters on the tongue, lips, and face. The current article describes the symptoms, diagnostic methods and the treatment available to deal with this disease.
Herpes is a disease caused by one of the most ubiquitous pathogens –herpes simplex virus. It is present in most adults in the latent form, and may or may not lead to an outbreak of the disease. About eight strains of the herpes simplex virus have been identified to cause different forms of herpes in humans. However, herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) are the common ones. HSV-1 is known to cause oral and genital herpes, whereas HSV-2 is the causative agent for genital herpes.
Herpes on tongue is a variation of oral herpes, and is associated with HSV-1. Once an infection with HSV-1 occurs, the virus always remains in the body in a latent form, and may or may not get reactivated. There is no cure for this disease; however, symptomatic treatments as well as medications to prevent the recurrent outbreak of symptoms are available.
The transmission of HSV-1 occurs via direct and indirect contact with the actively infected site of the skin. Once an individual gets infected with the virus, the following set of symptoms are likely to appear within three weeks.
- Myalgia (muscle pain)
- Itching and burning on the tongue
- Formation of water-filled blisters
- Cold sores
The development of these symptoms depends on the immunological state of the infected person. Some individuals remain asymptomatic even after acquiring the virus. After the infection occurs, the virus travels from the infected tissue via sensory nerves, to the sensory nerve root ganglia, and persists in a latent form. Reactivation or outbreak is triggered due to fatigue, trauma, emotional stress, flu or any condition that leads to a weakened immune system. The symptoms that occur during such recurrence are comparatively mild, and include tingling, itching, and mild pain at the site of primary infection.
A physical examination of the blisters accompanied with a set of lab tests help to identify this disease. Pathological investigation including viral cultures, antibody-associated tests, etc., may be done to confirm the presence of the virus, and identify the strain. The viral strain can also be identified through sensitive DNA-based diagnostic methods like polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
The current treatments focus on alleviating the symptoms, and preventing their recurrence. Antiviral drugs, namely acyclovir, famciclovirand valacyclovir, are prescribed to prevent viral replication. Analgesics and topical anesthetics may be prescribed to offer relief from pain. Certain herbs are also used to soothe the pain, enhance the healing of sores, and prevent recurrence.
Since herpes is a contagious disease, it is recommended to take the following preventive measures:
- Avoid direct contact with the blisters or sores of an infected individual.
- Refrain from sharing towels, washcloths, and other personal items.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene.
- Consume a balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
About 90% of the world’s population is exposed to this notorious virus known as HSV-1. Taking the right precautionary measures, watching out for any of the symptoms, and commencing the treatment immediately will help to reduce or prevent frequent outbreaks, and avoid transmission of the virus.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.