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    Oral Herpes

    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 culture analysis
    • A staining test called the Tzanck smear
    • Antigen and antibody studies
    • Blood sampling for antibody studies

    Oral Herpes Treatment Self-Care at Home

    Medical Treatment

    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.

    Prevention

    Avoid touching saliva, skin, or mucous membranes that have sores.

    Outlook

    The sores and symptoms of oral herpes completely clear up in 2-3 weeks. But the sores may reappear under certain stressful situations.

    Multimedia

    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

    WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

    Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on May 12, 2014
    1 | 2 | 3

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