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What Is The Difference Between Canker Sores And Cold Sores?

Canker Sore vs Cold Sore

Canker sores and cold sores are often used interchangeably. However, these two sores are not the same.

Being aware which type of sore you have is vital to figure out what type of treatment you need. Fortunately, there are several ways to identify which type of sore you have through based on your symptoms.

Cold Sore Symptoms include:

  • Swollen glands
  • Red, blister-like sore often with a scab or scaly appearance
  • Pain on the affected area or around the mouth
  • Clear, leaky fluid that comes from the sore
  • Sore throat
  • Fever

Canker Sore Symptoms:

  • Swollen glands
  • An open ulcer or a painful sore; may contain pits or “holes”
  • Whitish or yellowish in color with a red rim
  • Fever

It matters to know that the greatest difference between a cold sore and a canker sore is what they look like and where they are on the body. A canker sore is typically white or yellow in color while a cold sore is commonly red and at times leaks a clear fluid.

Canker sores are common within the mouth, often within the cheeks, while cold sores frequently occur on or near the outter lips.

Both types of sores may cause a fever. However, canker sores only cause fever, swollen glands, and/or fatigue in serious cases.

Treatment Options for Canker Sores and Cold Sores

There are a lot of over-the-counter medications for canker sores to relieve the pain and heal the sore. The medications usually come in the form of ointments or gels which can be directly placed on the affected area. Oral rinses are available as well. You can also try home remedies like rinsing with peroxide or salt water to clean sterilize the sore.

Meanwhile, for cold sores, you can buy topical creams and ointments which can also be bought over the counter. But, when cold sores are severe and extremely painful, doctors may prescribe pills or stronger ointment; at times they may also require medical attention and may take a long period to heal.

Cold sores can reoccur due to the herpes simplex virus. To prevent them from recurring often, seek medical attention.

What is a Canker Sore?

Canker sore refers to an open sore on the tongue or in the mouth. It is also known as an aphthous ulcer. It is a type of sore may cause discomfort.

A canker sore is commonly yellowish or whitish and comes with a red spot or outer ring. It is not contagious, and hence, it cannot be spread by sharing drinks or foods, kissing, and other forms of mouth-to-mouth interaction.

Click to read more information about canker sores.

What Causes Canker Sores?

  • Vitamin Deficiency
  • Menstrual period
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Food allergies
  • Consumption of acidic foods/drinks
  • Hormones
  • Stress

What is a Cold Sore?

Cold sore has a link to the herpes simplex virus. It is a type of sore typically occurs at the side of the mouth or along the lips.

Cold sores are small, reddish, and painful. It is also known as fever blisters. Cold sores tend to scab and leak fluid at times.

A cold sore is highly communicable and can be easily spread from touching the sore, various mouth-to-mouth interactions like kissing.

Click to read more information about cold sores.

What Causes Cold Sores?

This can be brought on by a person who is already infected with the herpes simplex virus. Once the infected person shares their saliva with another person through sipping on the same straw or cup, kissing, or engaging in oral sex, then the virus can be easily spread.

Once one obtains the herpes simplex virus, it’s said that it will be in the body forever. The virus can stay dormant and come about during times of emotional stress or lower immunity.


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