Oral herpes can be described as eruption of painful sores in and around the mouth cavity. These blisters are found on lips, cheeks, nose, chin, roof of the mouth, tongue and gums. They are also often referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. This is a viral disease caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two different types of this contagious virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. In almost 80 percent of cases, HSV-1 is responsible for the infection while HSV-2 mostly causes genital herpes. Only in some rare cases, HSV- 2 infects the face and mouth.
The virus that causes herpes enters your body when it comes in direct contact with the cells present in the outer layers of the facial skin tissue. In most cases, symptoms are not observed after exposure to the virus immediately. Once the virus gets into the body through breaks on the skin surface, it tries to reproduce in the nuclei of the host cell. During this process of multiplication, the host cell is destroyed by the virus.
► The initial symptoms that confirm the presence of this virus in the body include pain, tenderness, inflammation of the skin. These are early signs that show up just before the outbreak of cold sores.
► At this stage, one experiences an itchy sensation along with tingling at the nerve points where the cold sores are going to appear.
► This discomfort is accompanied by general symptoms like chills and fever, headache, muscle ache, fatigue, etc. Then, the skin turns red and one or more red bumps erupt on it.
► If you look at these bumps closely, you would find small watery blisters are formed on them. These eruptions give a constant throbbing pain.
► After a few days, the blisters get ruptured and a fluid like substances is secreted. In this phase, the cold sores are highly contagious in nature. The fluid released from the blisters spread to other areas in and around the mouth.
► At the final stage of oral herpes, a yellow skin layer appears on the open sores. This is known as scabbing of the blisters and is a sign of healing. Slowly, this yellow skin comes off in the form of flakes and new pink skin covers up the affected area. Once a fever blister subsides, it does not leave behind any scar at the site of infection.
Even after the blisters disappear, the virus remains inside the body. The virus move from the skin surface to the roots of the nerve cells of the face and stay there in a dormant state. This phase is known as latent phase. During this time, the virus continues to survive in the host cell without multiplication. When the virus starts reproducing again, this is said to have entered the shedding phase. At this point of time, no symptoms of reactivation of the virus can be seen. However, the virus becomes highly contagious and starts spreading infection through body fluids like saliva. Then again, the signs reappear as the virus travel from nerve roots to the skin surface and sores and blisters break out. It is possible that a man experiences these symptoms a number of times in his lifetime.
When it comes to the treatment of oral herpes is concerned, application of medicated ointments or use of oral antiviral drugs such as Acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir) can provide relief from the pain and soreness. If you get frequent outbreaks of oral herpes, you can consult your doctor who will prescribe vitamin supplements that can strengthen the immune system and reduce the severity of the symptoms and delay their recurrence as well. As soon as you notice the first sign of oral herpes, drink licorice root tea 2-3 times a day. This will prevent any further aggravation of the symptoms. Topical application of aloe vera gel gives a soothing relief from the itchiness of the cold sores
The knowledge of these symptoms is important because it will help you to take action that can suppress the severity of the infection. This in turn will decrease the duration of the herpes outbreak.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.