Health Guide
Drug Guide

Oral herpes simplex

What is it?

Herpes (her-pees) simplex 1 virus (HSV-1) is also called a fever or cold blister or a cold sore. It is a common germ that causes painful blisters on the lips, gums, or mouth. Sometimes it infects the sex organs. It is possible, but not common, to get HSV-1 in the eye. You may get cold sores many times in your lifetime.


This infection is caused by a germ called a virus and spread by person-to-person contact. The blisters carry infection (in-fek-shun) until healed. Stress or being in the sun too long may cause you to have a cold sore. Medicines that lower your ability to fight infection may also cause a cold sore.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have groups of small fluid-filled painful blisters around the mouth. These blisters may also be on the sex organs. The blisters are clear in the middle with a thin red ring around them. These blisters will usually dry up and go away within 7 days. Your eye may be red and painful if you have the virus in the eye. It may feel as though something is in your eye. Your eye may be bothered by light and may water more than usual.

Wellness Recommendations:

Medical Care:

You may use acetaminophen (uh-c-tuh-min-o-fin) to decrease pain. Do NOT take aspirin. Do not put anything into your infected eye before talking to your caregiver. Other medicines may be needed to treat your cold sore. There is medicine that can shorten the course of the HSV-1 infection. For people who get HSV-1 infections often, a low dose of antiviral medicine may be used daily to prevent the infection.

Dietary Measures:

Foods that are high in lysine (meats and dairy) and low in arginine (nuts and legumes) may prevent HSV-1.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



Complementary Therapies:

Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


1. Algert SJ, Stubblefield NE, Grasse BJ et al: Assessment of dietary intake of lysine and arginine in patients with herpes simplex. J Am Diet Assoc 1987; 87(11):1560-1561.

2. Arone di Bertolino R: Psychosomatic treatment of recurrent herpes simplex. Minerva Med 1981; 72(19):1207-1212.

3. Kneist W, Hempel B & Borelli S: Klinische Doppelblindpruefung mit Zinksulfat topisch bei Herpes labialis recidivans (German). Arzneimittelforschung 1995; 45(5):624-626.

4. Skinner GRB, Hartley CE, Millar D et al: Possible treatment for cold sores. Br Med J 1979; 2:704.

5. Woelbling RH & Leonhardt K: Local therapy of herpes simplex with dried extract from Melissa officinalis. Phytomedicine 1994; 1:25-31.

Last Updated: 9/15/2016

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