Herpes Stomatitis in Adults


Herpetic stomatitis is an infectious disease that spreads through bodily fluids or direct contact. The disease is most prevalent in children and young adults. Symptoms include painful swallowing, headaches, fever, swelling of gums and painful ulcers in the mouth. The ulcers normally heal within two or three weeks. The virus can stay dormant until reactivated. Antibiotics may prevent secondary infections.


  • Stomatitis means "inflammation of the mouth." With herpetic stomatitis, the mucous lining of the cheeks, tongue, lips and roof of the mouth becomes inflamed. The condition can be painful. Redness, swelling and bleeding from the affected areas can occur.

Recurrent Disease

  • Herpetic stomatitis is a recurrent disease. The disease is caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV) and is the most common viral infection after viral respiratory infections. Stomatitis affects the mouth and lips. The virus can be dormant in the body and recur with these allergy, fatigue, respiratory tract infections, exposure to sunlight, menstruation and fatigue.


  • Different antiviral medications are used in treatment of stomatitis, including acyclovir. Patients should maintain a mostly liquid diet during infection to speed healing and minimize pain, avoiding hot or cold liquids. Topical anesthetics, including lidocaine, can be used for mouth pain.


  • Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis, a herpes infection of the eye, can be a complication of herpes stomatitis. If the primary infection of the mouth spreads to the eye, medical treatment is essential. This infection, if left untreated, can cause blindness.

What to Avoid

  • When suffering from herpetic stomatitis, avoid hot and cold beverages and foods. Prolonged exposure to sunlight should also be avoided. Tobacco products and alcohol should not be used during an episode of herpetic stomatitis, as they will further irritate the lining of the mouth.


  • People affected with herpetic stomatitis should be careful about exposing others to the disease. It is extremely contagious. Kissing, sharing food, toothbrushes and linens can spread the disease. A person who has the condition is no longer contagious once the ulcers are healed.

When to Call a Doctor

  • The symptoms of stomatitis usually disappear within one to two weeks. If you do not consume enough liquids, you can become dehydrated. If severe dehydration occurs, it may be necessary to contact your physician. Consult your doctor if you have an inability to swallow, high fever, severe pain and if any symptoms do not improve in 10 to 14 days.


  • Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons, TheBlunderbuss, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
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