Herpes labialis (Orolabial Herpes/ Cold Sore/ Fever blister) is an infection of the lip by herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). The sores around the mouth typically heal within 2–3 weeks, but the herpes virus remains dormant in the facial nerves, following orofacial infection, periodically reactivating (in symptomatic people) to create sores in the same area of the mouth or face at the site of the original infection. Cold sore has a rate of frequency that varies from rare episodes to 12 or more recurrences per year. Most sufferers experience one to three attacks annually. The frequency and severity of outbreaks generally decreases over time.
Warning symptoms of itching, burning, increased sensitivity, or tingling sensation may occur about 2 days before lesions appear.
* Skin lesions or rash around the lips, mouth, and gums
* Small blisters (vesicles) filled with clear yellowish fluid
-Blisters on a raised, red, painful skin area
– Blisters that form, break, and ooze
– Yellow crusts that slough to reveal pink, healing skin
– Several smaller blisters that merge to form a larger blister
* Mild fever (may occur)
- Recurrence of herpes labialis
- Spread of herpes to other skin areas
- Secondary bacterial skin infections
- Generalized infection — may be life-threatening in immunosuppressed people, including those with atopic dermatitis, cancer, or HIV infections
Diagnosis is made on the basis of the appearance or culture of the lesion. Examination may also show enlargement of lymph nodes in the neck or groin.
Viral culture, viral DNA test, or Tzanck test of the skin lesion may reveal the herpes simplex virus.
Untreated, the symptoms will generally go away in 1 to 2 weeks. Treatment with an indifferent cream (zinc oxide or zinc sulfate), an anesthetic cream, or an antiviral cream (such as Acyclovir, Famciclovir, Valacyclovir) has a favorable effect on the duration of symptoms, if applied promptly. This is also the case with oral antiviral medication. If antiviral medicine (cream or oral) is started before exposure to the triggering factor (sunlight), it will provide some protection. Research on sunscreens has shown mixed results: some protection has been reported under experimental conditions that could not be replicated under natural conditions. In the long term, the number of relapses of herpes labialis can be limited with oral antiviral medication.
Avoid direct contact with cold sores or other herpes lesions. Minimize the risk of indirect spread by thoroughly washing items in hot (preferably boiling) water before re-use. Do not share items with an infected person, especially when herpes lesions are active. Avoid precipitating causes (especially sun exposure) if prone to oral herpes.
Avoid performing oral sex when you have active herpes lesions on or near your mouth and avoid passive oral sex with someone who has active oral or genital herpes lesions. Condoms can help reduce, but do not entirely eliminate, the risk of transmission via oral or genital sex with an infected person.
Unfortunately, both oral and genital herpes viruses can sometimes be transmitted even when the person does not have active lesions.