Tongue Herpes: How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent

Are you aware that there could be the presence of some virus in your mouth? Or that these viruses could then infect the tongue? We need to take care of our mouths and be aware of what’s going on inside. This is crucial to prevent infection, bleeding gums, and also to prevent the formation of cavities. It also helps to improve our appetite and freshen up our breath. Anyone can develop a tongue infection in the mouth area depending on exposure to certain types of bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. By practicing good oral hygiene, we can prevent many tongue infections. One such disease of the tongue is tongue herpes. Read more to know about tongue herpes, how to identify it, and to prevent its occurrence.

Tongue Herpes

What Is Tongue Herpes

Tongue herpes is an infection in the tongue which is caused by HSV (herpes simplex virus), or you can call it HSV-1. This infection affects the whole mouth, which results in painful sores on the lips, gums, cheeks, and mouth. It is generally spread through direct contact with the infected person, or through sharing items that are used by the infected person. Apparently, it also makes actions such as chewing, swallowing, and even tasting equivalent to hell for you. It is said to be one of the most painful and uncomfortable forms of oral herpes and lasts for around 10 days or so. However, we can take comfort in knowing that these sores can be treated and they would eventually go away.

Causes Of Tongue Herpes

Several emotional and physical causes play a role in the formation of tongue herpes as mentioned below:

  1. Food – Consuming foods such as coffee, chocolate, popcorn, nuts, and even alcohol could trigger the virus. These foods are high in arginine which triggers herpes outbreak.
  2. Menstrual cycle – It is very important to lower your stress levels when you are on your period. During menstruation, the release of hormones can cause herpes on the tongue to recur.
  3. Unprotected sex – HSV-2 virus can give rise to tongue herpes especially when people have oral sex with an infected partner, without using any barriers or condoms, etc.
  4. Lifestyle – Inadequate sleep, diet, stress, and fatigue are also factors that trigger the herpes simplex virus.
  5. Smoking/cigarette sharing – when a person unknowingly inhales a cigarette puffed by an infected person, it can lead to tongue herpes.

Some Common Symptoms/Identification signs Of Tongue Herpes

  1. Bumps/sores on the tongue, lips, gums, cheeks, mouth, etc. and mostly appear in clusters.
  2. There would be a lot of difficulty in chewing and swallowing food.
  3. Muscle aches.
  4. Body temperature rising above normal paves way for having an infection.
  5. There would be a lot of uneasiness and discomfort during the initial period of such an outbreak.
  6. Itching around the tongue area.
  7. A burning sensation will develop around the affected area.
  8. Sores turn to bloody blisters in some cases depending on the severity of the case.
  9. Some people experience drowsiness.
  10. Sores may also be present in the chin, neck, nose, and face
  11. Loss of appetite and may vary from person-to-person.
  12. Saliva drooling most of the time.

Treatment Options For Tongue Herpes

Some treatment methods for tongue herpes are as follows:

  • Certain medications help treat tongue herpes, like Valtrex and acyclovir, which are very effective.
  • Apart from this, amino acids like lysine which are present in certain foods also treat this infection.
  • Laser treatment is another effective treatment method for tongue herpes. It helps in reducing the pain and does not cause a lot of side effects. Moreover, this method is a preferred treatment option for elderly people.
  • Mouthwashes with ingredients like benzydamine and chlorhexidine also help to heal tongue herpes.

Apart from the usual readily available market treatments, there are some effective home remedies as well which you can opt for as it is very useful. Listed below are some:

  • The best home remedy is to consume fluids as much as you can. Due to the dehydration of the mouth caused by tongue herpes, it is likely to get exposed to more bacteria that can lead to other dental diseases. Such cases can be avoided by consuming as much liquid as possible. Also, because alcohol is a drying agent, consumption of the same should be avoided at any cost or it could worsen the condition. So, hands down, the best option is to consume water liberally. At least 8 – 10 glasses of water need to be consumed every day.
  • Secondly, to alleviate the pain you can apply cold and warm compresses at regular intervals. Just wrap ice in a cloth for cold or put a damp cloth in the microwave for hot and place it around the infected areas. It will help to ease itching and pain.
  • Bringing changes to your diet is also an effective way to heal tongue herpes. By eating more veggies with antioxidants like spinach, tomato and cauliflower you not only work towards reducing your tongue herpes-related woes but they help in enhancing your overall health as well. They also help in boosting the immune system and alleviate inflammation.
  • It is also essential to intake more protein-rich foods like eggs and oats as they give more energy to fight against viruses.
  • You can also use a warm teabag to the infected area which will help in reducing the pain to a great extent.
  • Lastly, it is always good to maintain proper hygiene which helps in altering the severity of the disease as well as helps to keep mouth diseases at bay.

Preventive Measures To Be Taken

Few preventive measures to be taken into consideration are as follows:

  1. No to sharing items – Avoid using or sharing items like toothbrushes or towels of those people who have been infected by the virus. Also, avoid sharing lipstick, lip gloss, or even lip balm as these items are mostly moist which would allow the virus to easily stick on them.
  2. Physical contact – Avoid physical contact with the person who is infected with the virus. There are likely more chances for the infection to be spread from a person who is already infected with the same.
  3. Washing hands – Practising the habit of washing hands regularly and frequently helps in preventing the virus to spread to other parts of the body or even to other people. After washing, it is also necessary to dry them with a towel or hand dryer. Washing hands is essential at all times especially after using the toilet or even after touching anything soiled such as meat which has a high probability of being contaminated with germs.
  4. Usage of hot water – It is always advisable to wash clothes, blankets, or other cloth items which have made contact with the infected sores with hot water.
  5. Avoid sex when infected – Avoid oral or genital sex during a tongue herpes outbreak. While having sex make sure to use a condom or dental dam if possible to avoid the spread of infection.


One can conclude that tongue herpes can occur in anyone and it surely causes much discomfort while it lasts. However, let us not overlook the fact that despite challenges put forth by the disease, many people still lead normal lives. And this is because they learn how to manage the sickness and hence alleviate the distress caused by it. It’s always advisable to diagnose any disease at the earliest through regular check-ups even if the discomfort is minimal. Keep antiviral medications handy to suppress outbreaks and to reduce the intensity thereof. Remember, herpes on the tongue is manageable as long as we make minor lifestyle adjustments.

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