What is oral herpes?

The herpes simplex virus is a common viral infection that spreads from one person to another by close, direct contact. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is the virus that causes oral herpes. Oral herpes appears as a cold sore.

Break the stigma of oral herpes

Oral herpes symptoms

The herpes simplex virus typically leads to one or multiple blisters on or around the affected area. In the case of HSV-1, these are mouth sores, or noticeable bumps around the lips.

Learn more about cold sores

Triggering the oral herpes infection

Once you are infected, the herpes simplex virus never leaves your body. It usually enters through a break in the skin around or inside the mouth.

During the first infection, the herpes simplex virus moves into your nerve cells and remains there permanently. HSV-1 lies inactive in nerve cells located at about the level of your temple.

HSV-1 can become reactivated when triggered and infect the skin cells. These triggers can include: stress, illness, fever, surgery, sun exposure and menstrual periods.

Find out how oral herpes spreads

HSV-1 is spread by skin-to-skin contact