How To Tell A Canker Sore From A Cold Sore

Trusted Health Products

Written By Kassandra Foreman / Reviewed By Ray Spotts

When a sore appears it is important to know what you are treating in order to clear it up as soon as possible. A canker sore and a cold sore can both be uncomfortable but they are very different from each other, have different causes and expectations, and appear in different locations. To tell one from the other it is important to know the signs and symptoms of each.

Cold sores

A sore that appears red, blistered, or is oozing is a cold sore. They can form on or around the lips but can also be in the mouth on the gums, tongue, or the top of the mouth. They can be caused by a herpes virus that is present in much of the population and can be spread from one person to another.

When there is extra stress present, other changes to the hormones within the body or illness that causes a fever, a cold sore may form and will often present itself with symptoms similar to that of the flu. It may cause or accompany a fever, an all-over body ache, sore throat and swelling in the lymph nodes.

A cold sore may have a burning feeling or tingling both before it occurs and while it is present, and this may be around the mouth and lips or the nose most frequently. An ice pack or an oral gel pain reliever may ease the discomfort or a prescription antiviral can be used to clear the cold sore, though neither will prevent them from occurring again.

Canker sores

A white or yellow-hued sore that is small and round and occurs only in the mouth itself is a canker sore. These occur inside the cheeks or lips, by the throat, and can even be underneath the tongue. More common than a cold sore they can be irritated or brought on by stress, allergies, and foods that are too spicy as well as infections.

With no other symptoms they are generally not painful or uncomfortable and will heal without further treatment, usually lasting less then two weeks. If a canker sore becomes painful or doesn’t resolve itself it can be treated with oral gel, prescription mouthwash or other medications. Treatment for a persistent canker sore can be provided by any family dentist.

While there are different causes for both a cold sore and a canker sore there are some common causes. Stress is a common factor that can cause either to occur, as well as hormonal changes, and while neither can be fully avoided it is valuable to monitor each and to limit stress whenever possible.

You should also avoid spicy foods when either is present or if cold sores are common.  Knowing the difference between the fluid-filled, blister-like cold sore and a smaller white or yellow canker sore that is inside the mouth is the only way to be sure that the correct treatment is prescribed.

Looking for a 100% all-natural liquid tooth oil and mouth rinse? Check out OraMD Original Strength and OraMD Extra Strength. Subscribe to our Trusted Health Club newsletter for more information about natural living tipsnatural healthoral care, skincare, body care and foot care. If you are looking for more health resources check out the Trusted Health Resources list

Written By:

Kassandra Foreman has been writing freelance for five years now and enjoys learning about new things to write about. When not writing she teaches yoga and meditation with a focus on health and fitness.

Reviewed By:

Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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