What is the Difference Between Cold Sores and Canker Sores?

G.W. Schamback runs Perfect Smile Dental in Stuart, Florida. Here, he explains the difference between those pesky cold sores and canker sores, and how to treat each type of sore.

People sometimes confuse cold sores and canker sores, but they are completely unrelated. Both can be painful, but knowing the differences can help you keep them in check.

A canker sore, typically the result of an immunologic defect, normally occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. It is usually light colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.

In most cases, patience is the best medicine for treating canker sores. A healthy diet and good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing regularly) are usually the best remedy, but some special rinses can also help. Canker sores can also be treated with steroids. But most importantly: Don’t get stressed out, eat well, and get enough sleep. If you work (or party) too much, you can get stressed and your immune system weakens, which makes you more prone to recurring infection.

A cold sore, or fever blister, on the other hand,  can occur on the outside or inside of the mouth, typically on or near the nose or lips. Cold sores are contagious because they are caused by the herpes simplex virus, and are usually painful and filled with fluid.

Cold sores can be treated effectively with over-the-counter topical creams. Sometimes, your doctor will prescribe an anti-viral medication for them. If I see the viral lesions early, I can treat them with the high-tech, precise Biolase Diode laser and virtually stop them.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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