Varicella-zoster is a virus that causes infection leading to shingles. Normally shingles appear on the skin, but they can develop inside the mouth too.
Keep reading to learn about the causes of oral shingles, symptoms, and treatment options.
Causes of shingles in your mouth
Shingles mainly attack your skin, epithelium, and mucosa. Oral shingles develop due to the same reason as skin shingles. Shingles appear when your immune system loses its strength. A weakened immune system can’t stop the virus from making its attacks, and it multiplies and causes shingles.
Several factors account for a weakened immune system, such as:
- illness: acute or chronic
- immunosuppressive drugs
- exposure to cold temperatures
- exposure to the varicella-zoster virus
Symptoms of oral shingles
Here are some common symptoms of oral shingles:
- burning sensation in the mouth
- rash or blisters on the face or mouth
- mouth tenderness
- facial pain
When to visit your physician
In case you are experiencing pain in the mouth or have shingles, consult your doctor. In case your mouth lesions are accompanied by the following, visit your doctor:
- weakness due to unknown reasons
- excruciating pain in the tooth or mouth
- tingling or burning sensations
- bleeding from the mouth shingles
If your doctor suspects you’ve shingles in the mouth, they may recommend several tests for diagnosis. These include physical examinations, blood tests, swab tests, and a medical history review.
Treatments for oral singles
There’s no cure for shingles, but the treatment can help alleviate the symptoms and minimize the time the infection is active.
Your treatment plan will likely include:
Antiviral medication is formulated to fight the shingles causing viruses. The best time to start these medications is at the earliest when your symptoms appear. Acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir are some of the antiviral medicines your doctor is likely to recommend for oral shingles. These can help minimize the pain and prevent further complications.
The shingles can cause too much pain in the tooth and areas of the mouth. To ease the discomfort, your doctor will likely prescribe OTC pain relievers or prescription medicine.
To get rid of singles in the mouth, your physician may prescribe topical oral pain medication. You can find them in the form of cream, gel, or liquid that you can directly apply to your mouth shingles.
Here are some tips that you can follow to manage your symptoms in a better way.
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash. Lesions due to shingles can make you more prone to bacterial infection. To alleviate the risk of infection, it’s better to use an alcohol-free mouthwash.
- Eat soft foods. Soft foods such as bananas, avocados, scrambled eggs, yogurt don’t need a lot of chewing and will make your mouth more comfortable.
- Eat more of the foods that are good for your immune system, including vegetables, lean protein, and non-acidic fruits.
- Avoid certain food items such as:
- sugary beverages, sugary cereals
- white bread and white rice
- ice cream
- packaged snacks, fast food, deep-fried foods
- pies, pastries