Canker Sore vs. Cold Sore

Are they the same thing? No! We’ve outline the difference between cold sores and canker sores.

Canker Sore vs. Cold Sore - Difference Between Cold Sores & Canker Sores

What is a Cold Sore?

A cold sore is the result of the herpes simplex virus. While it’s possibly for cold sores to appear anywhere on your skin, they are usually found around the mouth area. Cold sores generally don’t last more than 1-2 weeks, but they can be extremely irritating and painful. There are several cold sore treatments available — but they cannot be cured, only treated.

What is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores are ulcers that appear only inside the mouth, making eating sometimes painful or difficult. The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but certain acidic foods or sharp items inside the mouth (braces, dentures, chipped teeth, etc.) can either trigger a canker sore eruption, or make a current canker sore worse.

The Difference Between Canker Sores and Cold Sores:

Cold sores are highly contagious — spread by sharing items that touch the face, such as chapstick, or kissing someone that has the virus. Canker sores are caused most likely by irritations in the mouth, and are not contagious.

Canker sores are always found within the mouth, while cold sores are generally around it, appearing on the lips or on the skin under the nose.

Canker and cold sores often appear for almost the same amount of time, although cold sores typically stay a little bit longer. Canker sores generally go away within a week.

Whether you have cold sores or canker sores, they can both be highly bothersome — but remember, they go away fairly quickly! If you’re not sure which one you have, avoid sharing items that touch the face (cups, utensils, towels) with other people, and try not to eat spicy or acidic foods that might aggravate your sore more.


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