Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes virus. The most prominent viruses from herpes virus family to produce the symptoms are herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2. Herpes simplex virus 1 is majorly responsible for herpes labialis or oral herpes. It is a global ailment affecting many people.

The condition manifests itself as fluid filled blisters on lips, inside the mouth and on gums with pain and burning. It is a contagious infection. After the primary infection the virus becomes dormant and settles in cells of facial nerve.

The virus can reactivate itself when circumstances are favorable leading to recurrence.

Psychological stress, low immunity, sun exposure, menses and physical trauma are some of the triggers that may be responsible for recurrence. Recurrence is usually not severe as compared to primary infection. Over the counter medications usually alleviate the symptoms within few days of recurrence. However, if recurrent rate is frequent, your doctor may recommend oral antiviral medication for relief.

Causes Of Herpes Simplex Labialis

Herpes simplex labialis is caused by herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). In majority of cases the primary infection occurs before the age of 20.

The lesions and symptoms are manifested on lips and inside the mouth. Herpes simplex labialis is a contagious disease. The mode of spread is through close contact with an infected person.

Kissing with infected person, mouth to mouth contact are some the causes of its spread. Infection can also occur after coming in contact with objects contaminated with the virus used by an infected person. Shared utensils, towels, razors are the main culprits for its indirect spread.

After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in the facial nerves and remains throughout life. However, certain triggers can reactivate the virus leading to frequent recurrences. Recurrences increase when immunity is extremely low.

Other triggers responsible for recurrence of herpes labialis are; fever, mental and physical stress, menstruation, sun exposure, changes in hormones, dental surgery, low immunity in cancer and HIV infection all can trigger recurrent herpes simplex labialis.

Sign And Symptoms Of Herpes Labialis

The symptoms of primary infection may or may not be experienced. When the symptoms appear they last for few weeks. Usually the symptoms develop 2 to 3 weeks after coming in contact with the virus. The prodromal symptoms are burning and tingling on lips and around the mouth.

After few days tiny fluid filled blisters develop. During this period patient may suffer from fatigue, fever, and general malaise along with blisters. Few days after blisters burst leaving open the ulcerated area. Ulcers heal without leaving scars.

During recurrent infection the symptoms may be less painful with a short course. Recurrence decreases after the age of 35 years. The symptoms of recurrent herpes simplex labialis goes away within one or two weeks.

Treatment Of Herpes Simplex Labialis

Herpes simplex virus cannot be killed once it enters into your body. It remains in the body forever. Even without any treatment the blisters will vanish. However, treatment is necessary as it causes excessive discomfort for the patient. Main aim is to prevent recurrence and alleviate pain.

Applying cold fomentation will help to relieve pain and burning sensation. Sometimes pain killer medication may be necessary to alleviate pain. Over the counter anesthetic and antiviral cream are also beneficial to shorten the course of disease. Oral antiviral medicines are recommended for long duration when herpes labialis has frequent recurrence.

Since stress is one of the factors for recurrence of herpes labialis, patient should avoid stressful situation. Yoga and meditation will help to relieve chronic stress.

Patient should try to improve his immune level by avoiding alcohol and tobacco. To maintain healthy immune system he should eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are rich source of these nutrients.

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