Prevea Health

Cold sores vs canker sores

 
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As the cold weather advances, you may notice that you’re getting cold or canker sores. Did you know that there is actually a difference between the two? Learning more about cold sores and canker sores can help you treat them more effectively.
 

Cold sores

Cold sores are small sores that are filled with fluid and often appear in clusters. They can appear anywhere around the nose, lips or mouth, and are also known as fever blisters. Cold sores can take two to four weeks to heal once they burst, leaving a scab on the affected area.

Cold sores are caused by a common viral infection, which is contagious when the blisters are open. Once you have the virus, it never leaves, although it may be dormant for a long period of time. Stress, fatigue, hormonal changes and harsh weather are all things that may trigger cold sores.

To prevent a cold sore, don’t engage in physical contact with someone who is currently suffering from them, and don’t share any personal items like lip balm or utensils. To boost your immune system, eat a diet with plenty of fat-soluble vitamins and keep your hands clean. If you do get a cold sore, don’t touch it. If it’s hurting, try applying ice, which will reduce swelling and ease the pain. Aloe vera also can help reduce inflammation and moisturize the sore. If your cold sore is especially painful or recurring, consult your health care provider.
 

Canker sores

Canker sores are small lesions that occur inside your cheek or lip, on your gums or under your tongue. Typically, they don’t appear outside the mouth and heal within one to two weeks. Canker sores aren’t contagious, and are shaped like a circle that is yellow or white with a red border.

The pain of a canker sore is usually more annoying than intolerable. They can be caused by a minor injury in your mouth, a deficiency in zinc, iron or vitamin B-12, food sensitivities and stress. Certain diseases have also been proven to provoke canker sores, and researchers say that canker sores are typically unique to each individual.

To prevent a canker sore, practice good oral hygiene and eat healthy foods to make sure you’re getting all necessary nutrients. Managing your stress levels can also help. To treat a canker sore, you can try applying ice or warm salt water. Make sure to brush your teeth carefully to avoid hitting it and making it worse. If your canker sore continues recurring or is especially painful, contact your health care provider.

Remember, canker sores and cold sores have distinguishing characteristics, and finding out which you have is essential in getting the right treatment.