Anonymous on September 29, 2011

I intimately kissed a girl...a few days later I noticed a white sore under my tongue and then a red sore on my lip. Are these STD symptoms?

I intimately kissed a girl, and few days later I got a small white sore under my tongue and then on my lower inside lip. And now I have a small light red sore on my outside lip and it itches. Are these symptoms of an STD?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 29, 2011

I can understand your concern, and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction toward resolving your symptoms. 

While I can’t diagnose the cause of your symptoms from your question alone, it is possible to catch oral herpes from kissing. Oral herpes can cause cold sores (also called fever blisters) which typically occur along the lip line outside of the mouth. Rarely will they occur inside the mouth. The herpes virus can be spread through kissing, especially if you came into direct contact with an infected partner’s active herpes sores. 

Or, it’s possible that the sores you’ve noticed are harmless canker sores, which generally go away by themselves.

To be on the safe side, I would encourage you get tested for herpes 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Why? Because, while HSV-1 is more commonly found in the mouth area and HSV-2 typically infects the genitals, either virus can be found in both places of the body. 

When should you get tested? If you can go to the doctor while you still have the sores (typically within the first few days that you notice the symptoms) your doctor can do a swab test on the sore. With a swab test, you’ll find out quickly if herpes is the cause of your symptoms. 

If the sores have started to heal, STD testing is still a good idea, but you will need to wait to get tested for the most accurate results. The time period between exposure to an infection and detection thereof varies among STDs. For herpes detection, a simple blood test four to six weeks after exposure will most likely be accurate. (You can read more about when to get tested for STDs in our STD Testing Windows Guide). 

If it ends up that you do have herpes, you’re not alone…many people live healthy, normal lives with oral or genital herpes. And while herpes isn’t curable, it’s definitely treatable and manageable with safe, effective antiviral medications. For more information about herpes risks, symptoms, testing, treatment and prevention, see our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.

Someone who’s positive for herpes is most contagious during an outbreak...but the virus can also be spread when symptoms are dormant. So, if it turns out that you do have herpes, I urge you to share this information with any future partners so that they, too, may be fully aware of their risks...and so that, together, you can take appropriate precautions to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. 

That said, there are other things that can cause mouth sores, including syphilis, other non-sexually transmitted infections and various non-infectious causes. In other words, your symptoms may indicate a benign condition...but the only way to know for sure is to be examined by your doctor. 

Thanks for taking the time to share your question with us. I hope you’ll visit your doctor soon for a diagnosis and treatment. 

Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

Related Q&A's

Is it possible to get an STD from kissing someone?
I know I was exposed to the herpes virus. When should I get tested?
Can I pass genital herpes to a partner when I don’t have an outbreak?