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The Difference Between Cold Sores and Canker Sores

Posted on 3/1/2024 by Weo Admin
Close up of a beautiful smileTwo of the most common causes of mouth pain are canker sores and cold sores. These two painful conditions are not the same, and the treatment of them is not the same either. Here is information on cold sores and canker sores and how to relieve the pain caused by both of them.

What Are Cold Sores?

The herpes simplex virus causes painful cold sores. You can spread the virus through kissing, touching the sores, or drinking after them. Because a virus causes cold sores, once the virus is in your body, cold sores can reappear from time to time, especially when you are sick or under stress.

Cold sores appear on your lips or around your mouth. Before they erupt, the area might be tingly or tender to the touch. Once they erupt, they usually look like a small cluster of blisters, which can look like a large blister as well. Eventually, the blisters will turn into a scab. Cold sores can be painful. The entire area may look red and inflamed.

While there is no cure for cold sores, they can be treated. There are over-the-counter medications that help dry up cold sores, and there are prescription medications that can help speed healing.

What Are Canker Sores?

Like cold sores, canker sores can be quite painful. Unlike cold sores, however, canker sores are not contagious. They occur inside the mouth rather than outside the mouth or on the lips. Canker sores usually happen on the gums or along the cheek. The area of the canker sore is bright red with a white center. Canker sores are not caused by a virus or bacteria, but researchers do know that stress and some foods can exacerbate canker sores, and canker sores tend to run in families. Canker sores also happen most often to people younger than 50.

Painful canker sores can be relieved by rinsing your mouth out with salt water three times a day. Over-the-counter medicines and pastes are also available.

Not sure why your mouth hurts? We can help. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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