Identifying a cold sore from a canker sore is not always straightforward. Both forms of sores affect the mouth, and their appearances might resemble one another. Yet, a cold sore is distinct from a canker sore. In terms of etiology, sites, symptoms, and transmission, these ulcers vary.
Can't tell the difference? Here are some guidelines to assist you distinguish between the two.
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are mouth ulcers that resemble a shallow, oval or round disc. These lesions might be whitish, grey, or yellowish in colour, and their diameter is often less than 1 millimeter. (1)
A canker sore may manifest as a single sore or as clusters of little lesions. This can make it difficult to eat, speak, and brush your teeth. Nonetheless, the discomfort typically subsides within a couple of days. A cold sore, commonly known as a fever blister, is characterised by clusters of fluid-filled blisters. Before the blisters emerge, you may experience itching or tingling one to two days beforehand. Before a scab forms, these lesions eventually break and ooze, causing discomfort and skin redness.
During the initial breakout of a cold sore, additional symptoms include fever, swollen glands, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches. The position is Important for Identifying a Cold Sore or a Canker Sore
The position of these lesions is another method for distinguishing between cold sores and canker sores. Inside the mouth, the mucous membranes form canker sores. Hence, these sores are more prone to appear inside the cheeks and lips, on the soft palate, and on the tongue.
In contrast, cold sores typically do not occur inside the mouth, although this is possible when first exposed to the virus. Instead, cold sores typically appear on or around the lips.
The Cause of a Cold Sore Differs from That of a Canker Sore.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the most prevalent cause of cold sores (HSV-1). HPV is a widespread virus, carried by about fifty percent of Americans aged 14 to 49. Many children contract the virus by being kissed by an infected individual.
Some infected individuals never get a cold sore because the virus might remain dormant for years.
Exposure to intense sunlight
Inflammation or infections
The viruses HSV-1 and HSV type 2 (HSV-2) can cause both cold sores and genital herpes. Oral sex with a person who has genital herpes can transmit HSV-2 cold sores, but this is not the only way to contract these cold sores. A person with HSV-2 cold sores can transmit the virus to another person through kissing. (3) Similarly, HSV-2 can be passed from a mother's genital tract to her newborn child, according to Allison Arthur, MD, a board-certified dermatologist from Orlando, Florida.
Nevertheless, canker sores are not caused by the herpes virus. Unknown is the actual cause of canker sores. Yet, it is believed that several variables can raise your risk. Some individuals acquire canker sores after consuming citrus fruits or acidic diets, while others develop sores due to a nutritional shortage (in, for example, vitamin B12, folic acid, or iron).
In addition to smoking, stress, and oral trauma, canker sores can be triggered by other reasons. Cold sore transmission is distinct from canker sore transmission.
The manner in which these lesions spread also varies. Cold sores are communicable. They are transmitted not only by kissing but also through the sharing of dining utensils, beverages, and personal objects.
It is crucial to avoid kissing or sharing food or beverages with a person who has an active cold sore. Moreover, you should clean your hands after contacting a cold sore. This avoids both the spread of a cold sore and the transfer of the virus to other parts of your body.
When blisters erupt, cold sores are most contagious. Yet, you can continue to transmit the virus until the sore has completely healed.
Yet, a canker sore is not contagious and does not transmit from person to person.
Despite their differences, some wounds share similarities. Cold sores and canker sores often recover within one to three weeks, and they frequently resolve on their own without therapy.
Some individuals also suffer from recurring cold sores and canker sores. Ask your doctor about suppression therapy with a daily antiviral to lessen the frequency of outbreaks for recurrent cold sores. Repeated canker sores necessitate a visit to the doctor. This may indicate an autoimmune disorder or vitamin insufficiency.