Exams and Tests
A doctor will base a diagnosis on information you provide and on physical examination. The characteristic appearance of the herpes sores leaves little doubt. Further testing is usually not necessary.
If you require a definitive diagnosis, for instance, if your infection involves other organ systems, the doctor may conduct laboratory tests.
- A sample from the sores to identify the virus
- A staining test called the Tzanck smear
- Antigen and antibody studies
Blood sampling for antibody studies
Oral Herpes Treatment Self-Care at Home
Treatment includes medication for fever and taking plenty of fluids.
- A topical anesthetic such as viscous lidocaine (Dilocaine, Nervocaine, Xylocaine, Zilactin-L) may be prescribed to relieve pain.
- Oral or IV medication does exist for herpes but is not recommended for people with a normal immune system. It is used only for people with weakened immune systems, infants younger than 6 weeks, or people with severe disease.
- Some people may require hospital admission:
- Those with severe local infection
- People whose infection has spread to other organ systems
- People with weakened immune systems
- Dehydrated individuals who need IV hydration
- Infants younger than 6 weeks
Next Steps Follow-up
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Use pain medications as instructed by the doctor.
- Use medications to control fever.
- Watch for signs and symptoms of dehydration.
Avoid touching saliva, skin, or mucous membranes that have sores.
The sores and symptoms of oral herpes completely clear up in 2-3 weeks. But the sores may reappear under certain stressful situations.
Media file 1: Oral Herpes. Clusters of blisters erupt on the lips, tongue, and inside the mouth. Most people have been infected by at least 1 herpes subtype before adulthood.
Synonyms and Keywords
herpes labialis, herpes gingivostomatitis, herpes pharyngitis, cold sores, fever blisters, herpes simplex virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes-1, herpes simplex virus, type 2 or herpes-2, herpes blister, oral blister, oral herpes