Sofie Wise

Mark Spera

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About Author — Mark grew up in a family of healthcare providers and has always been fascinated by preventative medicine, infectious diseases and the intersection of big data and healthcare.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

Herpes in Throat

Herpes in the throat, also known as herpes esophagitis is when herpes simplex virus invades the esophagus.

Herpes esophagitis is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus.

There are two types of herpes virus HSV-1 and HSV-2:

  • HSV-1 is more commonly associated with herpes in the throat. This virus is the same one that causes cold sores and it is generally transmitted by mouth-to-mouth contact, but can also be passed through oral sex. It is also known as oral herpes.
  • HSV-2 is the primary cause of genital herpes, but can also cause oral herpes. It is typically passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Who is at Risk?

The herpes simplex virus affects two thirds of the global population, although herpes esophagitis isn’t very common in healthy people.

People who have weakened immune systems are more at risk to contracting herpes of the throat, they include people who have or have had:


Leukemia or other cancers

An organ transplant


Any illness that compromises your immune system

Any autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

People who abuse alcohol

People who take long-term antibiotics

Read: How to Get Tested for Herpes and Why it Matters


The primary symptoms of herpes in the throat are:

Open sores in the mouth and throat (herpes labialis)

Difficulty swallowing


Chest pain

Other secondary symptoms are:

Joint pain



Not feeling well

Read: What Does Herpes Look Like


Herpes esophagitis is very rare and can be avoided by practicing safe sex. Ways to ensure you are not at risk of spreading or contracting the herpes virus are:

Using a condom

Using dental dams

Always informing your partner if you’re experiencing a herpes outbreak

Refraining from sexual relations while experiencing a herpes outbreak

The herpes virus is most contagious during an outbreak, but can be transmitted when no obvious symptoms are present.


There is no cure for herpes, however you should get treated as fast as possible if you believe you have it.

There are various medications available to help treat esophagitis caused by the herpes virus. The following antibiotics can help:

acyclovir (Zovirax) famciclovir (Famvir) valacyclovir (Valtrex)

If you believe you are experiencing a herpes outbreak, contact your doctor or a PlushCare doctor to get tested for herpes, confirm your diagnoses and start proper treatment.

To book an appointment with a PlushCare online doctor, click here.

Read more about herpes in throat


Healthline. Herpes Esophagitis. Accessed October 12, 2019 at

Livestong. 5 Things You Need to Know About Herpes in Throat. Accessed October 12, 2019 at

Medical News Today. What is Herpes Esophagitis? Accessed October 12, 2019 at


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