Mouth sores are extremely inconvenient- they prevent you from being able to talk or eat properly, and can even prevent you from sleeping because of the pain. Of the different types of mouth sores, two kinds are the most common and are often mistaken for the other – cold sores and canker sores. How can you tell one from the other, and how can you treat both conditions?
Differentiating cold sores from canker sores.
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are triggered by herpes simplex virus type 1. This type of oral sore forms around or directly on the surface of the lips and the sores characteristically contain fluids. It’s also possible for these cold sores to sprout at the roof of your mouth or on your gums, but these situations is very rare. When these sores rupture, they become contagious and can be passed on from one person to another by kissing. The onset of the infection usually starts with a fever and the primary outbreak of cold sores. The condition then resolves on its own and the virus becomes inactive for a time but may cause recurrent outbreaks in the future. The virus stays within a person and can be reactivated by a number of factors including stress, exposure to too much sunlight, and fever.
Canker sores are ulcerations which occur on the inside of the mouth, usually the insides of the cheeks and lips. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious and the cause of these ulcers is not known. They may be triggered by stress, trauma to your mouth, and even accidental bites to your lip. Canker sores are also related to a compromised immune system and most autoimmune disorders, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus), could trigger the outbreak of these ulcers.
Treating cold sores and canker sores.
While these conditions are self-limiting, they do inflict considerable pain and discomfort. In treating cold sores, Dr. Barber and Alliance Family Dental in Fayetteville, NC will screen and diagnose patients to see if they have the herpes simplex virus first. Antiviral agents may be applied to the sores in order to minimize the extent of the cold sore outbreak while ice may be applied on the lesions in order to provide the patient some form of relief. On the other hand, canker sores can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers if the pain becomes difficult to manage but the actual cure for these ulcers is still unknown.