What are Canker and Cold Sores? Everything You Need to Know 

What are Canker and Cold Sores? Everything You Need to Know 

Jun 03, 2021

Almost everyone, both adults and children, gets lesions in the mouth at some point. These sores cause pain and make eating and chewing food a difficult task. The two common types of mouth lesions are cold and canker sores. Although they appear similar, the canker and cold sores are different. It is important to know the primary differences between the two to choose the most suitable canker sore or cold sore treatment in Ajax, ON.

What are Canker and Cold Sores and How Do They Differ?

The location of the sores is the primary difference between cold and canker sores.

Canker sores are small and shallow ulcers that only affect the soft tissues in the gums and inside the cheeks. They can either be minor or major sores. Minor sores occur three to four times a year and affect children and teenagers between 10 and 20 years. The major sores are less common, but they are bigger and often last for more than two weeks.

Cold sores affect the lips and form at the corners in patches. However, you may develop cold sores inside the mouth. These sores are caused by a virus–the Herpes simplex virus.

How Can You Identify the Cold and Canker Sores?

The canker sores are oval or round and they form inside the mouth, under the tongue, inside the lips and cheeks, or the soft palate. You may experience a burning and tingling sensation about a day or two before the sores appear.

Cold sores are also known as fever blisters and are often grouped around the corner of the lips. You may experience itching and tingling, blisters, and oozing from the sores. But, it is important to note that these symptoms will be different depending on whether it is your first experience or recurrence. If it is a recurrence, the sores will appear on the same spot every time and they are less severe.

Are the Cold and Canker Sores Contagious?

Canker sores are not contagious and they will not spread from one person to another even when you come in close contact.

Cold sores are contagious and the causal virus (herpes) is spread by touch. That is why you are advised to maintain proper hygiene to prevent the spreading of the virus. Also, avoid close contact with someone affected by the sores.

What Are the Causes of Canker and Cold Sores?

The cause of canker sores is unclear, though it is believed that a combination of factors can contribute to the formation of the sores. The triggers include minor injuries to the soft tissues and gums, sensitivities to spicy and acidic foods, vitamin B-12 deficiency, zinc, folate, and iron, an allergic reaction to bacteria, and emotional stress.

Certain diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease and a compromised immune system can also cause canker sores.

The cold sores are caused by a virus, but a recurrence is triggered by several factors like hormonal changes, fever, fatigue, stress, changes to the immune system, and injury to the skin.

How Are the Sore Treated?

Canker sores do not often require treatment and they clear within one or two weeks. However, if you have larger sores, you may need several treatments like gels, creams, mouthwash, oral medications, and cautery.

Similar to the canker sores, the cold ones will clear out in a week or so. However, you may need prescription gels and creams that can help get rid of them.

When To Seek Help?

Both the canker and cold sores clear within one or two weeks, but using medications can hasten the process. You may, however, need to visit the doctor immediately if the sores do not clear in two weeks, are unusually big, and you have a high fever.

How to Prevent Canker and Cold Sores?

Canker and cold sores can reoccur a few times in a year, but you can reduce the frequency by:

  •  Avoiding foods that irritate the mouth
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies
  •  Practice good hygiene.

Schedule an Appointment

Visit Rossland Landing Dental Care for more information on the canker and cold sores and how they are treated.

Font Resize
Contrast