Blister in mouth


Blisters are the most familiar disorder of the mouth that causes discomfort and annoyance to millions of Americans. It causes small sores which develop in or around the mouth, and often are confused with each other. Blisters, also known as cold sores, usually occur outside the mouth--on the lips, chin, and cheeks or in the nostrils. When fever blisters do occur inside the mouth, it is generally on the gums or the roof of the mouth. Inside the mouth, fever blisters are smaller than canker sores, heal more quickly, and often begin as a blister. Fever blisters have plagued mankind for thousands of years. Scientists at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, one of the federal government's National Institutes of Health, are seeking ways to better organize and ultimately prevent these and other oral disorders.

Fever Blisters

In ancient Rome, an epidemic of fever blisters prompted Emperor Tiberius to ban kissing in public ceremonies. Today fever blisters still occur in epidemic proportions. About 100 million episodes of recurrent fever blisters occur yearly in the United States alone. An estimated 45 to 80 percent of adults and children in this country have had at least one bout with the blisters. Fever blisters are caused by a contagious virus called herpes simplex. They are of two types of herpes simplex virus.

Factors

Several factors weaken the body's defenses and trigger an outbreak of herpes. These include emotional stress, fever, illness, injury and exposure to sunlight. Many women have recurrences only during menstruation. One study indicates that susceptibility to herpes recurrences is inherited. Research is under way to discover exactly how the triggering factors interact with the immune system and the virus to prompt a recurrence of fever blisters. Currently there is no cure for fever blisters. Some medications can relieve some of the pain and discomfort associated with the sores, however. These include ointments that numb the blisters, antibiotics that control secondary bacterial infections, and ointments that soften the crusts of the sores.

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