Mouth herpes is a painful medical condition that occurs when a person comes into contact with a strain of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus is usually manifested in the form of painful blisters that appear on and around a person's mouth, accompanied by several uncomfortable symptoms such as a sore throat and fever. HSV cannot be cured, though many people find that they can reduce the frequency and severity of mouth herpes outbreaks by keeping their bodies healthy and consulting their physicians about proper treatment.
Individuals are most likely to contract the disease when they come into direct contact with an infected person. HSV can be transmitted by kissing, sharing cups and eating utensils, or touching the blistered area of an infected person's mouth. Others are most susceptible to contracting the disease when blisters and other symptoms are visibly present on the person's face, though HSV can sometimes be spread even when a person is not experiencing an outbreak.
Outbreaks usually occur when a person's immune system is weakened due to stress or sickness. The most common symptoms of mouth herpes include painful, red blisters on the lips and surrounding skin, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, a sore throat, fever, and fatigue. Blisters are often very sensitive to the touch and tend to harden over the course of recovery. Visible mouth herpes outbreaks usually last for about five to ten days, though symptoms can take up to two weeks to disappear completely.
People who experience occasional mouth herpes outbreaks can usually find relief with topical, over-the-counter cold sore medications. Many retail pharmacies and grocery stores sell topical creams that can relieve pain and speed up recovery time. For severe or frequently recurring cases of mouth herpes, a person should consult a physician to obtain the most appropriate treatment. Doctors may prescribe high-strength ointments, creams, or pills to alleviate a person's symptoms and discomfort. Occasionally, doctors will prescribe medication to be taken daily, whether or not the patient is experiencing an outbreak.
Once a person is infected with HSV, he or she will always have the virus and put others at risk of contracting it. In many cases, however, outbreaks can often be controlled by maintaining a healthy immune system and following a physician's recommendations. Many people living with HSV can enjoy long periods of time without having outbreaks by engaging in a proper diet and exercise routine, controlling stress levels, and taking regular medication. Over time, symptoms of mouth herpes disappear completely for some people.