Are cold sores and canker sores the same thing?
- Cold sores are infectious.
- It is also known as a fever blister or recurrent herpes labialis.
- Cold sores are caused by a virus called HSV-1.
- They are contagious and extremely painful for the first few days. First-time outbreaks may usually involve other symptoms, such as headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and a sore throat.
- These sores are typically seen as a cluster of small blisters that quickly rupture to form small ulcers. The ulcerations may later extend to the skin around the mouth and become covered with a crust or scab.
- Usually, cold sores appear outside the mouth, under the nose, around the lips or under the chin.
- Lesions are commonly preceded by itching, burning and/or tingling sensations.
- Cold sores usually are triggered by fever, emotional or physical stress, hormonal changes and/or decreased functioning of the immune system. They can be passed on to another person through kissing and sharing things that go in or near your mouth (like spoons or lipstick).
- They generally heal within 7 to 10 days with or without treatment.
- Applying petroleum jelly or aloe vera extracts or ice on the sores may numb the pain and speed up the healing process. In recurrent cases, doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs and creams, such as Valacyclovir.
- To prevent a recurrence, individuals may need to maintain a hygienic lifestyle. Eating foods enriched with vitamin E and C may help in boosting the immune system.
- These sores are not usually infectious and are rarely contagious.
- Canker sores are small round ulcers that appear inside the mouth usually on the inside of the cheek or near the gums. Canker sores are an autoimmune response of the body that damages the skin inside the mouth after a local injury.
- They might be triggered by poor diet, local injury, food allergies, spicy food and vitamin deficiencies. Rarely, a virus may cause canker sores.
- They often have a gray punched-out center and a white or yellow edge surrounded by redness. The sores bleed easily, usually when brushing the teeth.
- They usually last for several days. Occasionally, they may last for 1 to 2 weeks before disappearing.
- Canker sores are usually healed within 14 days. They may be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Anesthetic ointment or gel may be applied for a short period to numb the pain. Dabbing a bit of cortisone or milk of magnesia on the affected area to coat the ulcer may reduce the pain.
- Gargling with warm salt water or a solution of baking soda and water can shorten the healing time and reduce pain as well. A high-quality antimicrobial oral rinse may also help in the healing process.
- Avoiding highly acidic or spicy foods and eating a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients may prevent recurrence. A toothpaste devoid of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is known to prevent the recurrence of canker sores.
Should I be worried about cold sores and canker sores?
To summarize, canker and cold sores have characteristics that distinguish them from one another. Both sores are nuisances more than anything and they are not a major threat to health, but they are quite bothersome. Finding out whether you have a canker sore or a cold sore is the first step towards finding an effective treatment. Some people also deal with recurrent cold sores and canker sores. For a recurrent cold sore, the doctor may give suppression therapy with a daily antiviral to reduce the frequency of outbreaks. You should also see a doctor for repeated canker sores. This can be a sign of an autoimmune disease or a vitamin deficiency. Both canker sores and cold sores are two different conditions that signal weakness in the immune system. Fortunately, the immune system can be boosted with a healthy diet and a hygienic lifestyle.
IMAGESBrowse our medical image collection of allergic skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis and more caused by allergies See Images
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
WRVO Public Media
Top Are Cold Sores and Canker Sores the Same Thing Related Articles
Are Canker Sores Contagious?Canker sores or aphthous ulcers are one of the most common causes of painful sores in the mouth. The actual cause of canker sores is unknown; however, some triggers that may precipitate outbreaks in some people include stress, anxiety, oral trauma, hormonal changes, drugs, food allergies, toothpastes, and vitamin deficiencies.
Are Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) Contagious?About 20% of cases of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and approximately 80% of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores are transmitted by sharing utensils and razors, kissing, and oral sex. There is no cure for cold sores.
Canker SoresCanker sores are a common complaint, and are small ulcers on the inside of the mouth. Canker sores aren't contagious (as opposed to cold sores), and typically last for 10-14 days usually healing without scarring. A variety of things cause canker sores, for example, medications (aspirin, beta-blockers, NSAIDs, high blood pressure medication, and antibiotics); injury to the mouth from dental work, braces, or sports accidents; acidic foods; allergies; and diseases or conditions like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and lupus. Canker sores can be cure with home remedies, and prescription and OTC topical and oral medication.
Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) PictureCold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. See a picture of Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) and learn more about the health topic.
Cold Sores SlideshowHow to get rid of cold sores? First learn about the herpes virus and how it causes cold sores. When are cold sores contagious? Get information on triggers that can cause a flare up in cold sore symptoms.
Do Cold Sores Mean You Have an STD?Having a cold sore does not necessarily mean you have an STD. Most of the cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which usually affects the lips and is not generally transmitted by sexual contact.
Do I Have a Cold Sore or Canker Sore?Having a cold sore or canker sore is painful and differentiating them isn’t always easy. However, a cold sore isn’t the same as a canker sore. Cold sores are usually caused by the herpes virus and it is highly contagious. Canker sores are mouth ulcers that are not contagious.
Cold Sores (Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections)Herpes simplex infections are common and when they appear around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores" and "fever blisters." Canker sores are different than cold sores. Air droplets can spread the virus, as can direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. Cold sore treatment include over-the-counter medication, as well as prescription medications.
How Do I Get Rid of a Cold Sore Overnight?You cannot get rid of cold sores overnight. There is no cure for cold sores. However, to speed up the healing time of a cold sore, you can consult with your doctor and take prescription medications such as antiviral tablets and creams. A cold sore may go away without treatment within a week or two.
Mouth Problems: TMJ, Canker Sores, Painful Gums and MoreSores, painful gums, bad breath -- what's going on in your mouth? Find out with our slideshow of the most common mouth problems. Learn about canker sores, cold sores, oral thrush, TMJ, and oral cancer. See what treatments for bad breath and other dental problems are available from your dentist.
What Can Trigger a Cold Sore?After you get infected with HSV, it lies inactively in the nerve cells inside your skin and may appear as another cold sore at the same place as before.