Are Canker Sores The Same As Cold Sores

Canker sores and cold sores are two very different conditions, but because they can both cause painful, uncomfortable blisters in the mouth and on the lips, people often wonder if they’re actually the same thing. It’s important to understand what each condition is and how it manifests so you can treat them accordingly.

In this blog post we’ll dive into all aspects of canker sore vs cold sore comparisons – from identifying characteristics to treatment options – so you can be informed about what’s ailing your mouth!

What Is Oral Herpes?

Oral herpes, also known as cold sores or fever blisters, is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV is highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. It can remain dormant in the body for long periods of time before suddenly becoming active again and causing outbreaks.

Cold sores typically manifest in the form of blisters around the mouth, lips, and chin. These blisters contain fluid and can be very painful. They usually recur several times a year, with some people experiencing more frequent outbreaks than others.


  • Blisters around the mouth, lips and chin
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Painful when touched
  • Reoccur several times a year


  • Direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.
  • Stress
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain medications can also trigger outbreaks

Stages of Herpes

Once someone is infected with HSV, the virus enters a dormant state in nerve cells located near where it was contracted. Periodically, the virus reactivates and causes an outbreak. Cold sores normally go through four stages:

  • Tingling/itching stage – A tingling or itching sensation near the area of infection signals the start of a cold sore outbreak.
  • Blister stage – Small red bumps and fluid-filled blisters form on the skin around the infected area.
  • Ulcer stage – The blisters burst and form shallow, painful sores that ooze with clear or yellowish fluid.
  • Healing/scabbing stage – The ulcers form a light brown crust and gradually heal over the next several days.

What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores sometimes referred to as aphthous ulcers or mouth ulcers, are small white or yellowish sores that appear inside the mouth, typically on the tongue and inner cheeks. They can be painful and often leave a burning sensation in the affected area. Canker sores aren’t contagious and aren’t caused by a virus, but the exact cause of them is still unknown.

Canker sores come and go on their own and usually don’t require medical treatment. However, some people may find that using over-the-counter medicines or home remedies can help to reduce pain and inflammation associated with the sores.


Canker Sore Symptoms:

  • Small white or yellowish sores inside the mouth
  • Typically on the tongue and inner cheeks
  • Painful and often leave a burning sensation


  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain medications
  • Food allergies or sensitivities
  • Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies
  • Injury to the inside of the mouth from braces
  • ill-fitting dentures
  • Aggressive tooth brushing

How Can I Tell the Difference?

Though both canker sores and cold sores can appear in the same area of the mouth, they have some key differences that make them easy to tell apart. Canker sores are typically small, shallow ulcers with a white or yellow center and a red border. Cold sores, on the other hand, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and typically appear as clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters around the mouth and lips.

Can Cold Air Cause A Sore Throat

Cold air can cause a sore throat, especially if it is dry and has low humidity. The air can irritate the throat when inhaled, causing inflammation and an accompanying soreness. Cold air also affects the respiratory system by decreasing the body’s natural defense mechanisms against airborne germs and viruses. This makes people more susceptible to colds and other illnesses.

The best way to protect against a sore throat from cold air is to take preventative measures. Wearing a scarf or muffler over your nose and mouth can help warm the air before you inhale it. Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water and warm tea, will also keep your throat moist and better able to resist dry, cold air. Additionally, using a humidifier in your home can help add moisture to the air so that you’re less likely to experience irritation from dryness or cold air. Finally, eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals can give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off any germs or viruses it encounters.


Canker sores usually go away on their own in a few days, so most people don’t require treatment. However, if the sores are large, painful or recurring, over-the-counter creams and gels can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Cold sores usually require antiviral medication to help treat the infection. Antivirals work by preventing the virus from multiplying, reducing soreness and promoting healing. In some cases a doctor may also prescribe a steroid to reduce inflammation.


In conclusion, while canker sores and cold sores have some similarities, they are two different conditions and should be treated accordingly. Canker sores usually heal on their own in a few days, but cold sores require antiviral medication to treat the infection. It’s important to know the difference between the two so you can treat them properly. If in doubt, it’s always best to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.

Health Fitness Art is a company that believes in the importance of preventive care. We have experienced staff who provide our members with the best possible advice. We provide valuable information on how to improve your lifestyle and achieve better overall health. Our mission is to make our community healthier.

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