What are the Symptoms of Oral Herpes?
Oral herpes, caused by herpes simplex virus type I, is a very common condition affecting 50 to 80 percent of the population. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a recurrent skin condition that causes herpes outbreaks orally around the mouth and lips.
An oral herpes outbreak generally consists of cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth or lips. Cold sores are red, painful, pus-filled lesions that break open and form a scab. During an outbreak, signs of herpes last several days to about two weeks.
Oral herpes symptoms can vary. Signs of herpes can be so subtle they are mistaken for other common conditions such as a bug bite, pimple, small cut, or even chapped lips. Some people infected with HSV-1 may never show signs or symptoms of herpes.
HSV 1 typically causes herpes on lips, but can sometimes cause outbreaks above the upper lip, inside the nose, or on the cheeks or chin. In these cases, oral herpes is also known as facial herpes. Less commonly, oral herpes can cause herpes in the eye. This is also known as ocular herpes or herpatic eye disease. Symptoms of herpes in the eye include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or pain and redness of the eyes.
HSV-1 can also be spread to the genital area during oral sex. Although herpes simplex virus 1 typically causes cold sores around the mouth and face, it can cause similar lesions on the genitals or vaginal area. When experiencing an oral herpes outbreak or any potential signs of herpes, it is important to refrain from performing oral sex to prevent transferring the virus genitally.
There are no significant differences between herpes symptoms in men and herpes in women.
Oral herpes symptoms in women and men
- Cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth, lips, or facial area
- Infections of the eye
Getting a test for herpes
A test for herpes simplex virus 1 is not recommended as part of a routine STD screening since the oral herpes is so common and does not present any serious health risks. When cold sores are present, testing may be necessary to determine whether the lesions are caused by the oral herpes virus (HSV-1) or genital herpes virus (HSV-2). Specific herpes medication and treatment can be administered following a positive oral herpes test.