Herpes simplex. Cold sores on the lower lip due to the herpes simplex virus (type I). Herpes simplex is a contagious infection that affects most people during childhood, often passing unnoticed without symptoms. Initial infection can sometimes cause a flu-like illness and mouth ulcers. The virus remains dormant in facial nerves for life, and in some people causes recurrent attacks of blisters (cold sores) around the mouth in response to hot sunshine, cold wind or illness. There is no cure for herpes simplex but antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of an attack, and antibiotics may be given for secondary infections.
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