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Herpetic Lesions: Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 67 percent of the world's population younger than 50 years old has herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 is generally spread through oral-to-oral contact and is commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters. These blister-like herpetic lesions can be spread from the mouth to other parts of the body. Since approximately 3.7 billion people carry this virus, it is very important to understand the symptoms and management of the condition.

Symptoms of Herpetic Lesions

Six to 24 hours before the actual lesion appears, patients may feel some tingling, burning, stinging or pain in the tissue around the lips or eyes. The patient may also feel warmth, redness and swelling as common HSV-1 symptoms. The blisters associated with herpetic lesions generally appear in clusters, forming under the tissue and pushing to the surface. The lesions are infectious, and (no matter how much they itch) patients should not touch or rupture the blisters to avoid spreading the virus to the eyes, fingers, cheeks, nose, or to another person.

The symptoms may vary depending on whether you have primary or recurrent herpetic lesions. Systemic symptoms, such as a fever, headache and sore throat, may accompany a primary outbreak, notes Medscape. Recurrent lesions are typically milder and shorter in duration than the primary type.

Treatment for Herpetic Lesions

Since herpetic lesions are contagious, dental professionals encourage patients to postpone routine care appointments if the virus is active and the patient has lesions present. According to WHO, there are several antiviral medications available that may be prescribed to shorten the duration of a herpetic lesion outbreak. These medications may decrease the incidence of the condition, but are not a cure for the illness. Numbing products may also relieve pain during an acute herpetic outbreak.

Prevention of Herpetic Lesions

HSV-1 is spread mainly through the infected lesions of patients exhibiting symptoms. Unfortunately, there is currently no effective therapeutic agent or vaccine to prevent the herpetic family of viruses. Some common preventive tips include following good handwashing and personal hygiene habits, avoiding kissing, and not touching the affected blistered areas of the herpetic lesions. Patients can also prevent the spread of the virus by not sharing toothbrushes. Keep these tips in mind in order to keep healthy during these challenging times.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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