When you see sores on your lip or mouth, it may be due to oral herpes. The odds increase particularly if you or your partner is sexually liberal. Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
You may not even know when you really contracted it as the herpes virus remains dormant in your body. It may never appear or may periodically flare up. When appear, these sores are painful, ugly and can be embarrassing for some. Infants can also get oral herpes due to kissing from parents.
Oral herpes, also known as cold sores or fever blisters are caused by the Herpes Simplex Viruses These bumps usually lasts for 10-14 days before disappearing on their own. However, the use of some natural remedies can give you pain relief at home.
What Causes a Cold Sore on Your Lips and Mouth?
It is a virus induced condition. Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV2) are the two viruses responsible for these fever blisters. More than 80% of cases of oral herpes on your lips and mouth is caused by HSV1 whereas HSV2 is responsible for 80% of the genital herpes.
When your body’s immune system gets weaker due to illness or stresses, probabilities of flare-ups increase.
More than 50% of the Americans above the age of 50 carry HSV1 virus in their body according to the world health organization (WHO). This generally remains dormant throughout the lifecycle of almost 70% of the people. Only 30% of those living with HSV1 will get flare-ups.
Another health study from University of Michigan reveals startling statistics indicating that 50% of the kindergarten going students already has HSV1 infection.
It is therefore important to have good understanding of the oral herpes and how to treat them effectively.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Herpes?
Initial outbreak of oral herpes is very severe. Future outbreaks are less painful. They appear on lips and mouth. Sometimes they may appear on the tongue also. In the infant’s case cold sores are mistakenly taken as canker sores.
Following are the main signs and symptoms of oral herpes on your lips and mouth:
- Sore Throat
- Swollen Glands
- Muscle pain
It all happens with a tingling sensation around the edges of your lips 24-48 hours before the blisters appear. Then a tiny red bump may begin to appear on the lips or mouth which gradually increases in size and a cluster of blisters begin to form. Initially they are clear but as the body’s immune system fight them, they look cloudy and their color changes.
Over a period of more than a week they break open and the fluid is drained out. They dry out and the skin gets back to normal shape. Once the fluid drains, it is important to keep the scab safe to avoid any bacterial infection.
You may just get one blister or a set of connected blisters on your lips but the pain and agony of the first time stay in the memory for long.
There is no cure for herpes on lips and mouth, but you can do a lot in reducing your pain with home remedies.
7 Home Remedies for these Fever Blisters
Following are some very effective remedies to reduce pain and induce faster healing of herpes blisters on your lips and mouth
- Eat more Vitamin C rich food items. Vitamin c boosts production of white cells that fight infections. All red orange and deep green fruits and vegetables contain varying amounts of Vitamin C. Eat what you like as choices are many. Berries, tomatoes, citrus fruits, kiwis, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi and spinach are a few Vitamin C rich food items.
- Consume more Vitamin E rich foods. Vitamin E helps to repair damaged skin cells. This will help fast healing of the blister. Nuts, whole wheat and leafy greens are all rich in Vitamin E
- Dab lemon based lip balm for faster healing
- Smear Aloe Vera gel to soothe the inflamed sore on your lips.
- Apply antiviral products such as licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid with Aloe Vera to stop the spread of the cold sores
- Sip Echinacea Tea 3-4 times a day as it boosts immunity to fight with the herpes infection
- Use Lysine based creams as l-lysine boosts immunity and improves cell repair
By using the above remedies and proper care and precautions as given below, your couple of weeks of short journey through herpes on your lips and mouth will be less troublesome. Make sure that you don't pass the infection to others during this period when you are most contagious.
Precautions and Prevention
You can take precautions to prevent cold sores to some extent. If your partner has it then it becomes very difficult to not contract. Even if there is no blister on your partner you can still get it as it passes from one body to another with intimate contact.
The good news is that the transmission of the dormant HSV1 in one person to another happens in certain season. People with dormant HSV1 infection are most contagious only during certain times of the year. Though it is difficult to know when for every individual case, it is still possible.
Practicing better hygiene and avoiding intimate contact with infected person can go a long way in preventing herpes infection.
A carrier of HSV1 can also infect another person with Genital Herpes. How it happens is still a mystery but for the time being, prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately in this case there is no cure so you must focus more on prevention.
If you already have cold sores, then be careful that it doesn’t become genital herpes also. Take the following precaution to deal with your fever blisters:
- Always sanitize your hands before handling a sore
- Do not touch a cold sore
- Use cotton swabs to apply pain relief ointments etc.
- Avoid intimate and kissing engagements with others.
- Throw away your entire dental hygiene kit including toothbrushes at the first signs of the outbreak.
So with taking above precautions and using one or more of the above remedies you can deal with herpes on lips and mouth easily.