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Oral Herpes (cont.)

Oral Herpes (HSV-1, Herpes Simplex Virus-1) Symptoms and Signs

  • Incubation period: For HSV-1, the amount of time between contact with the virus and the appearance of symptoms, the incubation period, is two to 12 days. Most people average about three to six days.
  • Duration of illness: Signs and symptoms will last two to three weeks. Fever, tiredness, muscle aches, and irritability may occur.
    • Pain, burning, tingling, or itching occurs at the infection site before the sores appear. Sometimes these symptoms happen prior to the appearance of sores, bumps, pimple-like lesions, or blisters (herpes or herpetic stomatitis). Thereafter, clusters of painful blisters or vesicles erupt or ooze with a clear to yellowish fluid that may develop into a yellowish crust. These blisters break down rapidly and appear as tiny, shallow gray ulcers on a red base. A few days later, they become crusted or scabbed and appear drier and more yellow.
    • Oral sores: The most intense pain caused by these sores occurs at the onset and can make eating and drinking difficult.
      • The sores can occur on the lips, gums, throat, the front of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, and the roof of the mouth.
      • They can also extend down the chin and neck.
      • The gums can become mildly swollen, red-colored, and may bleed.
      • Neck lymph nodes often swell and become painful.
      • People in their teens and 20s can develop a painful throat with shallow ulcers and a grayish coating on the tonsils.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2015

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