Herpetic stomatitis

Alternative Names

Stomatitis – herpetic

Definition of Herpetic stomatitis

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

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Herpetic stomatitis is a contagious viral illness caused by (also herpes simplex virus, HSV). It is seen mainly in young children. This condition is probably a child’s first exposure to the herpes virus.

Signs and tests

Herpetic stomatitis is normally diagnosed based on its very typical appearance. Laboratory studies are seldom done. Sometimes viral culture and special stains can help with the diagnosis.


Herpetic stomatitis can be treated with the acyclovir family of antiviral medications.

Expectations (prognosis)

The child should recover completely within 10 days without medical treatment. Oral acyclovir may speed up recovery.


Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/2/2009

Swollen gums

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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