Oral

Herpes Treatment

Oral herpes, caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1, is a common and contagious viral infection characterized by the development of painful cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth and on the lips. Other causes, like the herpes simplex virus type 2, can also cause the same symptoms but are much less common when compared to HSV-1. With its aggressive spread, oral herpes is a lifelong condition that comes in cycles and periodically causes recurrent outbreaks. While there is no cure for oral herpes, antiviral medications can help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, allowing individuals to lead healthy lives with proper management and preventive measures.

After 2-12 days of HSV-1 exposure, oral herpes typically begins with a tingling, burning, or itching sensation around the mouth or on the lips. This is followed by the development of painful fluid-filled blisters or cold sores, which can burst, scab over, and eventually heal within a few weeks. These outbreaks are often accompanied by discomfort, such as soreness, swelling, and in some cases, fever, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes. Recurrent episodes of oral herpes may occur throughout a person's life, with the severity and frequency of outbreaks varying among individuals.

Oral herpes is primarily spread through close personal contact with an infected person, especially during active outbreaks when cold sores or fever blisters are present. The most common ways oral herpes is transmitted include:

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Kissing: Direct mouth-to-mouth contact is a common mode of transmission, particularly when one partner has an active outbreak.

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Oral-Genital Contact: HSV-1, the primary cause of oral herpes, can be transmitted to the genital area through oral-genital contact, leading to genital herpes.

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Vertical Transmission: Infants can contract oral herpes during childbirth if the mother has an active genital herpes outbreak at the time of delivery.

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Asymptomatic Shedding: Even when no visible symptoms are present, the herpes virus can be shed from the mouth or genital area, potentially infecting others through close contact or oral-genital contact.

In most cases, a diagnosis of oral herpes is made based on the characteristic symptoms. Diagnostic testing, including viral culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, may be performed, but these tests are typically reserved for cases with atypical symptoms or when the diagnosis is uncertain.

Oral herpes treatment primarily focuses on managing symptoms, reducing discomfort, and promoting faster healing during outbreaks. Common steps to manage oral herpes include:

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Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir, which can help reduce the duration and severity of outbreaks when taken as prescribed.

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Pain relief medications like ibuprofen or topical numbing creams to alleviate discomfort.

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Keeping the affected area clean and dry to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

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Avoiding direct contact with the cold sores to prevent spreading the virus to others.

To reduce the frequency, severity and duration of outbreaks, we prescribe antivirals such as Acyclovir and Valacyclovir (Pill and Ointment available)

Oral herpes outbreaks can most commonly be avoided by habits and remedies developed in the home after the initial treatment. With the addition of avoiding stress and common triggers, these can include:

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Maintain Good Hygiene: Developing a skincare routine and regularly washing your hands after you touch your face both help to avoid the spread of HSV-1 and create optimal conditions for the prevention of outbreaks. 

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Sun Protection: Excessive sun exposure can trigger outbreaks. Protect your lips and face from direct sunlight by using lip balms or creams with sunblock, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, or seeking shade.

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Healthy Diet: A balanced diet rich in nutrients and low in arginine (an amino acid that can trigger outbreaks) may help. Include foods high in lysine (another amino acid that can inhibit the virus) such as yogurt, milk, and fish.

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Topical Ointments: Over-the-counter creams or ointments containing docosanol can be applied to cold sores to help reduce symptoms and promote healing.

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Ice Packs: Applying a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth to the affected area may help reduce pain and inflammation during outbreaks.

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Lifestyle Choices: Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and engaging in activities that compromise your immune system. Maintain a healthy lifestyle to bolster your body's natural defenses.

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Regular Sleep: Ensure you get adequate sleep, as lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and potentially trigger outbreaks.

Ongoing treatment for oral herpes typically involves the completion of any provided prescription and the development of habits that help manage future outbreaks after the prescription has run out.  The medication's goal is to reduce the severity and duration of outbreaks, as well as to suppress viral shedding, which can decrease the risk of transmission to others, while the habits you build during treatment will allow you to reduce or outright curb future outbreaks. 

Preventing oral herpes outbreaks involves adopting various strategies to minimize triggers and bolster your immune system. Here are some preventive measures to consider:

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Staying hydrated and get enough sleep

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Maintaining a healthy diet 

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Reducing and managing stress

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Avoiding substances that strain the body

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Wearing sun protection

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Getting treatment at the onset of symptoms

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Oral Herpes Overview

How It Works

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Step 1
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Step 1
Answer questions about your health

Enter patient information and medical history as well as answer questions relating to your symptoms. This should only take about five or ten minutes.

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Our providers will review your visit

Our board-certified medical providers will create a custom treatment plan based on your condition and medical history. You can follow your treatment status with our consultation tracker any time after your visit has been submitted, this is located in your patient dashboard.

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Get Rx delivered to your pharmacy or doorstep

Pick up your prescription at your pharmacy of choice within 1-2 hours.  After you receive your treatment plan, connect with your pharmacy to see when they will have your Rx fulfilled. For some medications we offer home delivery options for your convenience.

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