Herpes Stomatitis (gingivostomatitis)

Herpes Stomatitis (gingivostomatitis)

Herpes Stomatitis (gingivostomatitis)

Herpetic stomatitis, sometimes called Herpes gingivostomatitis is a viral infection of the mouth that causes sores and ulcers. These mouth ulcers are not the same as canker sores, which are not caused by a virus.

Herpetic stomatitis is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), or oral herpes. Young children commonly get it when they are first exposed to HSV. The first outbreak is usually the most severe. HSV can easily be spread from one child to another.

Herpes gingivostomatitis is common, mild, and shortlived and requires no intervention in most adults. In immunocompromised persons, however, reactivation of herpes simplex virus infection is frequent and may be severe.


Clinically, there is initial burning, followed by typical small vesicles that rupture and form scabs. Lesions are most commonly found on the attached gingiva and mucocutaneous junction of the lip, but lesions can also form on the tongue, buccal mucosa, and soft palate.

  • pain around the gums and mouth
  • red, swollen gums
  • blisters on the gums, lips, tongue, cheeks, and roof of the mouth
  • ulcers in the mouth
  • fever
  • drooling, especially in children
  • bad breath
  • reluctance to eat or drink


Acyclovir (200–800 mg orally five times daily for 7–10 days) or valacyclovir (1000 mg orally twice daily for 7–10 days) may shorten the course and reduce postherpetic pain. These treatments may be effective only when started within 24–48 hours of the onset of initial symptoms (pain, itching, burning) and are not effective once vesicles have erupted.

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