The incidence of herpes simplex mouth infections is highest in preschool children:
- initial infection of primary herpetic gingivostomatitis (PHG) primarily affects children under 10 years of age with a peak incidence at 2-4 years of age, and secondarily young adults, aged 15 to 25 years (1,2)
Incubation period of HSV infection ranges approximately 3 to 10 days.
Presentation is usually with an acute gingivostomatitis characterised by:
- pain on eating and drinking
- high fever
- may be bleeding from gums
ulceration of the tongue, palate and buccal mucosa
- widespread inflammation in the marginal and attached gingiva, and small clusters of vesicles throughout the mouth.
- vesicles often coalescence and burst, forming large ulcers
- cervical gland enlargement
- dehydration due to refusal to eat or drink
PHG is a contagious disease that usually regresses spontaneously within 12 to 20 days.