If you get a sore inside your mouth this winter, it will undoubtedly be painful and annoying. If it pops up outside your mouth, add unsightly to the description.
Both canker sores and cold sores cause sufferers a lot of grief. However, there’s a great deal of confusion about the difference between them.
According to WebMD, a canker sore arises inside your mouth. It has a white, yellow or grayish center with a flat red border if it is the smaller type of sore, known as a minor aphthous ulcer. The larger variety (major aphthous ulcer) appears with a raised border. You might get one or several canker sores, and they might occur from time to time.
A canker sore almost always starts as a red spot or a bump that develops a tingling or burning sensation before any other symptoms are obvious. If you have a canker sore, your mouth will feel painful. The good news is that it will normally heal on its own within a week to 10 days. If it lingers longer than that, you need to see your doctor or dentist.
Researchers are still stumped by the cause of canker sores, although they believe genetics has a hand. White blood cells can affect the mouth’s lining, causing these sores. Other probable culprits include fatigue, stress and sensitivity to certain foods. While painful, canker sores are actually harmless.
Your canker sore is not cancerous or pre-cancerous. Neither is it contagious. While there are some topical agents that can bring temporary relief, there is no permanent cure for this condition. You might want to avoid hot, spicy or acid-laden foods during an outbreak as well as any beverages that can send the sore into overdrive. Sometimes steroids are prescribed to control the white blood cell population that leads to canker sore development.
Cold sores are also painful. They actually consist of fluid-filled sacs sometimes referred to as fever blisters. Unlike canker sores, they most frequently appear on the lips or on the skin around them. However, clumps of the blisters might appear on your gums or on the roof of your mouth.
Also unlike canker sores, cold sores are definitely contagious. They can be caused by either the Type 1 or the Type 2 Herpes virus. The primary Herpes infection, which frequently happens before you become an adult, is typically mistaken as a cold or a case of the flu. When the infection kicks up, it can cause painful lesions throughout the mouth. Some individuals feel very sick for an entire week, while others infected with the virus never appear to become ill from it.
The Herpes virus remains in the body permanently, sometimes in an inactive state. It might activate periodically and cause a cold sore. Other possible causes include irritants such as wind, sun, fever and stress.
Like canker sores, most cold sores resolve themselves after about a week. A scab will form once the blister breaks. Although they probably won’t cause a sore to heal faster, some topical anesthetics, anti-inflammatory agents or topical anti-viral medicines might give you relief from the pain for at least a while.
Like the common cold, there is no cure for the virus that causes cold sores. Your medical provider might elect to prescribe anti-viral drugs. However, they won’t be effective three or four days after a blister forms.