Herpes (Oral)


This is a common viral infection. It can cause small sores that we call "cold sores" or "fever blisters." Usually, these form on or around the lips or in the mouth.


Oral herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. It's also known as "HSV-1." It passes from person to person through close contact. It can spread by kissing. It can spread if an infected person shares silverware, lip balm or a razor. You can get it from skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, even if they don't have a sore at that time. And HSV-1 can spread from an infected person's mouth to another person's genitals during oral sex. HSV-1 isn't the type of herpes most commonly thought of as "genital herpes" - that's caused by a virus called HSV-2. However, HSV-1 can still cause sores on the genitals.


Oral herpes can cause just one blister or several. Just before blisters form, you may notice warning signs. Your skin may tingle, itch or burn in the spot where blisters will appear. You may also have other symptoms, such as a fever or a sore throat. After a day or so, you may see one or more small, red, painful blisters. They may break open, ooze and form a crust. Usually, blisters go away in a week or two. But the virus stays in your body, and can cause other outbreaks.


Oral herpes can't be cured. But it can be managed with medicines that fight the virus. Medications can help reduce your symptoms. They can help you have fewer outbreaks, and make it harder for you to pass the virus to someone else. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that is right for you.