Cold Sore Vs. a Canker Sore: What’s the Difference?


You might have heard people getting cold sores, and some getting canker sores. You might speak to your Eugene dentist about this, but you might not know the difference if you have one or the other. Well, you should know the difference, since it’s important to your overall oral health to know. This article will give you a definitive answer on the difference, and just what each one of them means for your oral health.

Now the main difference is how they work. One of them is contagious, the other incredibly annoying. Canker sores are ulcerated cankers inside the mouth. They are the less serious of the two, and while they are annoying and painful, you don’t have to worry about them. However, a cold sore is like a pimple outside of where your mouth is. These are much more serious and require treatment. They are also way more contagious. They typically are not serious, but if you have a decreased immune system, such as in the cause of AIDS, this can be highly contagious.

They also have different looks to them as well. Canker sores often are small, have an oval shape area in white or gray, and are covered by a halo in red. Your Eugene dentist can help identify this if you’re not too sure. You only get them inside the mouth thrush, such as near the cheeks, on the tongue, and inside the lips. They aren’t contagious. Now, what causes them is really autoimmune issues. They happen when you’re run down. Cankers are less likely to crop up if you are taking care of your body and getting enough sleep. there isn’t a single cause for this, but often, it’s because of either food allergies, nutrient deficiency such as in the case of iron, zinc, or folic acid, stress, hormonal changes, something sharp such as medical trauma in dentistry like braces, SLS in toothpastes which create a foamy, tingly feeling, or even too many acidic foods that are processed such as pasta, wheat, and tomato sauce.

Often, the way to treat a canker sore is to do a super salt rinse with either Himalayan or dead sea salt. It might burn a bit but then stimulate healing, which then close the ulcer. It’s good for mouth injuries because it increases blood flow to the area, speeding up healing and reducing the inflammation within the area. It’s also an astringent so it’ll help with speeding up the healing.

Now for cold sores, it’s a totally different thing. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that break out, and then crust over. Before that, it might burn, itchy, or be tingly. They are usually on the upper lips or mouth, and they recur at the same spot every time. these are caused by a virus, which spreads to others when they share utensils, kiss, or even shake hands. Usually, most are exposed at the age of five, and most people have them at least once, so most of us are carriers. Now, once you have it, it never goes away, but it can be spread, even if you don’t have cold sores for a long time. they can be triggered by sunlight, hormone changes, wind, a weakened immune system, and stress.


Now to treat these, you can get denavir, which is a prescription cream, which is applied every two hours for four days. It’s an antiviral and it definitely gives you good results. You should see a dentist to get it since it is prescription only. It’s better than most types. If you don’t want to get a prescription, Abreva works. You should also not cover up the cold sores, since it’ll slow down the process. You should also make sure that you don’t work with a dentist that will shame you for it.

Now that you know the difference, you can see that there are various differences to each of these. If you are looking to understand the difference, the best place to go with this, is really to see where the outbreak is happening. If it’s inside, then it’s a canker sore, but if it’s outside, it’s a cold sore. 

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