The Difference Between Cold Sores and Canker Sores

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Cold Sores and Canker Sores. What are they, and how to find the difference between the two?
Despite having different causes, canker sores and cold sores both cause oral lesions that may look and feel the same. The two, however, are very distinct. It is essential to determine the type of mouth sore you have to treat it effectively and for a timely recovery. Differentiating between a canker sore and a cold sore can be easy if you know what to look for.

Canker sores develop only in the soft tissues of the mouth, such as your gums or the inside of your cheeks. Several factors, such as vitamin deficiency and internal mouth injuries, can lead to development.

Cold sores can sometimes develop inside the mouth but typically appear on and around the lips. Herpes simplex virus infection is the root cause (HSV).

Cold Sores
A more common moniker for cold sores is “fever blisters.” They are also referred to as oral herpes since they are a sign of a herpes simplex virus type 1 infection.

Causes of Cold Sores
If you had cold sores in the past, the virus may stay in your body and reactivate if something triggers it. Several factors can cause cold sores, including:

  • Common Cold
  • Fever
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes that occur between menstruation and pregnancy
  • Facial injuries like cuts or facial surgery

Symptoms of Cold Sores
Cold sores appear as painful blisters or clusters of blisters on the:

  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Top of the Mouth
  • Tongue

These sores may itch, burn, tingle, and drain fluid during the infection, lasting around 7 to 10 days.

The doctor can examine and diagnose cold sores based on their clinical experience. If there is any doubt, Herpes simplex virus type 1 can be detected in secretions from the lesions. Most of the time, no medications are required, but doctors may advise antiviral therapy in the cases of severity or recurrence.

Are Cold Sores Contagious?
Cold sores are, unfortunately, quite contagious. Contact with an infected person is one of the most common causes to get cold sores. You can get sick this way even if the person is taking medication for their symptoms or if they aren’t showing any symptoms.

Children and young adults are particularly susceptible to contracting the virus since they may be unaware of the risks of kissing and sharing eating utensils with other people. Cold sore patients spread it until the lesions are entirely covered in scabs.

To protect yourself from cold sores or to prevent others from contracting them:

  • Avoid kissing when you have an outbreak.
  • Keep your distance from others when you have cold sores.
  • Stay away from those with compromised immune systems, such as young children or cancer patients.
  • Never exchange personal things like towels, razors, or lip balm.
  • Never share food or drinks.
  • Do not touch your cold sores.
  • Regularly wash your hands.

Canker Sores
Aphthous ulcers, also known as canker sores, are painful round or oval lesions that develop on the tongue, the inside of the lips, or the cheeks, among other soft tissues inside the mouth. Women experience canker sores twice as frequently as males, and they typically first develop between the ages of ten and twenty, though they can appear as early as two.

Causes of Canker Sores
Canker sores can show up alone or in groups, similar to cold sores. The exact cause is unknown, but several other factors can induce an outbreak.

Canker sores are frequently aggravated by:

  •     Food allergies
  •     Stress
  •     Hormone changes
  •     Vitamin deficiency
  •     Infections
  •     Spicy and hot food

Symptoms of Canker Sores
If you have canker sores, you may see one or more small, circular lesions with red rims and a gray, white, or yellow center. Your mouth may experience these sores in many different places, including:

  •     Inside the lip
  •     Inside the cheek
  •     Beneath the tongue
  •     Back of your throat

Canker sores can be excruciatingly painful, but they typically disappear on their own within one to two weeks.

How to Treat Oral Sores?
Both types of sores typically heal on their own within two weeks. Cold and canker sores cannot be cured, but several therapies can accelerate the healing process or stop them entirely.

Treatment of Cold Sores
Sunscreen, lip balms, and ointments can all be used to treat cold sores. These remedies can lessen your symptoms and decrease the spread of the virus. Even if you don’t currently have cold sores, lip balm and sunscreen can help prevent them.

You can use painkillers if your sores are painful. Eat less items that are acidic to prevent irritating the sores. Additionally, you can keep them cool by using ice, cold towels, and cooling creams.

Treatment of Canker Sores
Ointments, creams, and mouthwashes are the main treatments for canker sores. These therapies lessen the discomfort, delay the outbreak, and make occurrence less frequent. Like cold sores, canker sores can be prevented by avoiding spicy and hot foods. When necessary, painkillers can also be used to reduce pain.

Depending on the severity of the sore you may want to see your dentist at SDCYour dentist can assess the canker sore and prescribe medicine such as antimicrobial mouth rinse that can promote healing.