Which physical findings are characteristic of orolabial herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections?

Updated: Feb 27, 2019
  • Author: J Michael Klatte, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
  • Print

Orolabial herpes simplex virus infections [67]

Primary herpetic gingivostomatitis results in vesicles and ulcers involving the hard and soft palate, gingiva, tongue, and lips. These lesions are initially vesicular, but rupture fairly rapidly, leaving 1-3 mm, shallow, gray-white ulcers on erythematous bases. Fever and cervical and/or submandibular adenopathy are common.

Patients with herpes simplex virus pharyngotonsillitis typically present with ulcers and exudates on the posterior pharynx and tonsillar area. Lesions may also be noted on the tongue, buccal mucosa, or gingiva. Fever may last 2-7 days. Cervical adenopathy is common.

Recurrent orolabial herpetic infection is preceded by a prodrome of pain, burning, tingling, and itching. The prodrome is followed by the emergence of painful vesicles 24-48 hours later. The vesicles evolve into pustules and heal by crusting. Lesions most frequently appear on the vermillion border of the lip.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!