The most common primary diseases of the oral cavity relate to members of the human herpes virus (HHV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) families. Other viral infections that affect the oral cavity are measles, mumps, cocksackievirus infection and rubella. One of the consequences of such infections is white spots on the lips.
There are an all eight types of each HHV virus that affect the oral cavity. Oral HHV infections are relatively common and could be either primary of recurrent.
- HHV-1 is the herpes simplex virus or oral herpes which is the cause of primary herpetic gingeiostomatitis. It is latent and liable to recover in the form of a common cold sore.
- HHV-2 or genital herpes sometimes manifests itself as an oral disease. Clinically it is similar to HHV-1.
- HHV-3 is the cause of primary chickenpox infection and secondary herpes zoster reactivation disease.
- HHV-4 is known as the Epstein-Barr virus. It causes infections in patients who are immunosuppressed.
- HHV-5 is believed to be chronic and infects the salivary gland and other tissues.
- HHV-6 is believed to persist chronically in some hosts affecting their salivary glands.
- HHV-7 is the cause of a roseala and febrile seizures in children.
- HHV-8 is linked with body-cavity lymphomas
The herpes viruses are DNA viruses. They replicate in the nucleus of the host cell. The viruses are spread in the oral cavity through infected droplets or saliva, and also transmitted by oral genital contract.
Viral infections that cause white spots on the lips are a source of irritant but are rarely fatal. However, in patients who are immunosuppressed, these infections may be severe and occasionally have side-effects that lead to other complications.
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