Oral Herpes HSV 1

Oral herpes, also called the herpes of the mouth, is a highly contagious disease worldwide which is caused by the herpes simplex virus – 1 (HSV–1). Studies show that about 80% of oral herpes is caused by HSV-1.

oral herpes overviewOral herpes causes painful sores on the lips, gums, mouth, tongue, or cheeks which are commonly called cold sores. Some infected persons also experience fever and sore throat. HSV-1 is usually spread through the saliva of an infected person. This virus enters the body through any breaks or opening of the skin or mucous membranes (nostrils, lips, eyelids, ears, genitals, and anus). Therefore, a simple kiss or touch can transmit the infection to another person. Sharing of plates, utensils, towels or razor can also spread the virus.

Oral herpes only affects human beings and is most common in younger children. This is because parents mostly kiss their kids or share with them their utensils or glass. An infected child who touches his or her blisters or lesions and then suddenly touches the eyes can acquire a herpes infection in the eyes. Thus, extra precaution should be done when an infected person is around children especially that children have a weaker immune system to fight back the virus.

Once the oral herpes virus infects a person, it develops into three stages:

  • Primary or initial infection: In this stage, the HSV-1 enters the body through the mucous membrane and multiplies. It then causes cold sores, fever, and sore throat. For some infected persons, no symptoms are noticed at all.
  • Latency: In this stage, the herpes simplex virus moves to the nerve cells of the infected person and become inactive or dormant.
  • Recurrence: The last stage is when the virus suddenly becomes active and causes an outbreak of sores or lesions. This recurrence of oral herpes is mostly due to emotional or physical stress.