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Cold Vs Cold Sore: Expert Explains The Difference

Canker sores are filled with pus and have well-defined boundaries, which makes it easier to differentiate them from cold sores.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Jan 16, 2023 15:23 IST
Cold Vs Cold Sore: Expert Explains The Difference

Oral sores in the mouth are very common and, at times, can be very uncomfortable and discomforting. Both cold and canker sores can affect your mouth. However, when any of them erupts, people find it difficult to differentiate between the two. Usually, they think that both cold and canker sores are the same; however, it is not the case in reality. To know more about the difference between cold and canker sore, the OnlyMyHealth editorial team talked to Dr Nihal Yadav, BDS (PGI Rohtak), Amayra Dental Clinic, Kaushik Enclave, Burari, Delhi, a former resident at Deen Dayal Hospital, Hari Nagar.

Canker sores occur only in the mouth's soft tissues, such as on your gums or inside your cheeks. Various factors, including injury to the inside of your mouth and vitamin deficiencies, can cause them. Cold sores erupt on and around your lips, and in some cases, inside your mouth and result from infection with the herpes virus.

What Are Cold Sores?

According to Dr Nihal, cold sores are a result of bad habits and poor maintenance of oral hygiene. Cold sores are not linked to genetics or blood-related issues and are purely infection based, he added. Infections with the herpes virus can cause cold sores, which can be infectious. Herpes virus is highly contagious and can spread even when you do not have cold sores. Since cold sores are contagious, they can spread if someone shares toothbrushes or eat from the same utensils.

Also ReadUseful Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Fever Blisters Or Cold Sores

One can identify cold sores by seeing the following symptoms.

  • Cold sore affects lips, mouth, nose, and other areas of the face along with a burning sensation.
  • One can also experience swollen lymph nodes, nausea, pain, fever, and headache. 
  • In cold sores, one can also experience pain on swallowing something.

What Are Canker Sores?

According to Dr Nihal, canker sores can occur in the mouth on the gums, tongue (on or below), palate, and cheeks. These are a type of mouth ulcer that is shelled, oval and has well-defined yellow or white boundaries. These sores are pointed and pus-driven, implying that they have less blood in them. These canker sores can vary in size from small to large, whereas the larger ones are more painful and take more time to heal.

Like cold sores, canker sores can also be caused by bad habits and activities such as sharing personal stuff like utensils. Any trauma inside the mouth can also trigger them. Further, hormones and deficiency of certain nutrients can also cause canker sores. They can also result as a result of a reaction to eatables like spicy foods. Also, people who have conditions that affect the immune system are also prone to canker sores.

Also Read4 Causes Of Canker Sores On The Tongue

How To Differentiate Between Canker & Cold Sores?

If you suffer from sores, either cold or canker, the first thing is to visit your doctor. Following the physical examination, the doctor will be able to tell you whether you are suffering from cold sore or canker sores. While cold sores can occur anywhere on the face, canker sores typically erupt inside the mouth. As stated by Dr Nihal, canker sores are filled with pus and have well-defined boundaries, which makes it easier to differentiate from cold sores.

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