Ulcers in the mouth start off as a sore and is typically a common feature found in a person who is infected with a sexually transmitted disease like HIV, herpes simplex virus infection, syphilis, HPV or gonorrhea. Though to certain degrees other STDs can bring injury to the mouth, the aforementioned diseases give room for obvious attacks on the mouth.

For instance, HIV exposes the immune system to infections and without taking antiretroviral drugs and eating healthy. The HIV positive person is very much likely to have outbreaks of sores and ulcers on his/her mouth – an indication that the body is in need of some defense.

Below are the clues in identifying the type of mouth ulcer unique to sexually transmitted diseases that cause them.

Herpes Simplex Virus Infection

The herpes simplex virus is a virus that has a great affinity for the human body. There are two types of the virus: oral herpes simplex virus or HSV-1 and genital herpes simplex virus or HSV-2. Both may cause ulcers of the mouth depending on the mode of sexual intercourse that took place.

The virus is spread from one person to another through sexual intercourse even without the presence of sores. Apart from sexual intercourse, kissing, and sharing personal effects like toothbrushes with an infected person can give one the virus.

Identifying Herpetic Mouth Ulcers

Injuries to the mouth from the herpes simplex virus infection are located on the tissue of the hard palate and gum tissue surrounding the teeth. They appear as small blisters within 2 to 12 days of contracting herpes simplex virus. When they rupture, they join together and become larger sores.

Herpetic ulcers don’t have a permanent cure; they tend to recur after treatment has taken place. They often return to the same areas where they attacked at the initial time. In HIV positive patients, these sores tend to persistently recur. Symptoms accompanying herpetic sores are:

  • Fever
  • General body weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Bodily discomfort
  • Difficulty eating and drinking
  • Pain in the affected areas


Syphilis is a bacterial STD caused by Treponema pallidum. The disease from syphilis has been on the rise globally, mainly as a result of poor/or no use of condoms for sexual intercourse amongst the young and wild as well as the lifestyle of having multiple sexual partners and the ignorance toward the importance of routine screening for the sexually active persons.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, syphilis is found amongst men who have sex with men and in heterosexuals too. In the United States, incarcerated persons in prisons also have experienced the outbreak of syphilis amongst them.

A person can get infected with syphilis through sexual intercourse too.

Identifying Syphilitic Mouth Ulcer

Syphilis has been termed a mimicker of other diseases. When infected newly, sores that appear on the mouth as a result of a syphilitic infection are found commonly on the lips. They are called chancres. Chancres show up within 1 to 3 weeks of contracting syphilis. A chancre, unlike the herpetic sore, doesn’t cluster with others; it appears singly on the lips of both males and females.

In males, it is found more on the upper lip while the lower lip is its abode in females. It is colored red, purple or brown and is deeply embedded in the affected area. A chancre is, however, painless, round and firm. It can heal within weeks without treatment, nonetheless, that does not mean the syphilitic infection has been cured.

Syphilitic ulcers can get complicated and may affect other areas of the mouth apart from the lips. The complication is common with untreated syphilis that has evolved into the secondary and tertiary stages.


The human papillomavirus is another viral infection that is very common in the United States and many other parts of the world. It can be acquired sexually especially through oral sex and can even infect children via casual bodily contacts with adults. When HPV is present in the mouth, it causes oral human papillomavirus infection which, more often than not, is without symptoms.

Identifying Oral HPV

The ulcers indicative of human papillomavirus infection, in many cases, give rise to oropharyngeal cancer that attacks the tissues of the tongue, voice box, throat, and tonsils. Symptoms usually associated with oral HPV include:

  • Swelling of the mouth
  • Persistent earaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Patches on the tongue
  • Difficulty swallowing


When Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that occasion Gonorrhea, invades the mouth region, it brings about oral gonorrhea. This is basically from having oral sex with an infected partner. Simple oral contact with the pus-like fluid containing the bacteria present on the genitals, anus, or rectum, can expose one to the infection. Mouth ulcer from gonococcal infection has no striking symptoms apart from feelings of a sore throat which could be taken as nothing unusual.

Mouth ulcers from sexually transmitted diseases imply that the diseases have caused severe damage to the body system. At the points of presenting with seen symptoms, know that an STD is getting out of hand.

Treatment can, however, help restore health although some damages may not be undone. It is very important, therefore, to practice safe sex and routinely get screened for STDs if you are a sexually active person.