Canker Sores and Fever Blisters: There is a difference!

  • Posted on: Aug 30 2011
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Fever Blisters and canker sores are very common, often recurrent, and can be very painful. They are commonly thought of as the same thing, yet there are important differences between the two.

Canker Sores (Mouth Ulcers) only occur within the mouth.  They are not contagious meaning they can not be spread from person to person.  They are not causes by any virus. Trauma to the inside of the mouth can trigger canker sores.  Do not bite the inside of your mouth or the sides of your lips. You may be doing it as a nervous habit causing the recurrence of the sores. Stress is another cause of mouth ulcers. Try to reduce the stress in your life, which has other health benefits as well. I realize in today’s world this may be easier said than done, but may be well worth the effort.

Usually a canker sore can last 7-14 days. They can be extremely painful when eating or drinking.  Relief can be found by a prescribed topical ointment that can be applied to the sore 2-4 times a day. This works as a protective barrier covering the sore. You may also be able to use a pain relieving gel from your local pharmacy. I suggest staying away from hard foods, such as potato chips,  hard salty pretzels and of course, spicy foods, that may further irritate the area.

Fever Blisters (Cold Sores) fever blisters are a fluid filled lesion caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). They are highly contagious. The virus is spread by sharing eating utensils, kissing an infected person, or touching saliva from the person with the sores.  Symptoms include pain around your mouth and lips.  You can develop fever, a sore throat, or swollen glands in your neck or other parts of your body.  Usually the blister will break open and a clear fluid may leak from it. The blister will crust over and disappear after several days or up to 2 weeks. You can have the virus and not develop any symptoms or blisters.

The herpes virus can never be cured and will stay in your body for the rest of your life.  The sores can be treated with ointments and sometimes an antibiotic may be prescribed.  Treatments can sometimes reduce the number of cold sores you get and the severity of them.  When you have a cold sore, make sure to wash your hands often, and try not to touch your sore.

If you develop either of these sores, please give the office a call. I would be more than happy to examine you and prescribe a medication if needed.  I always want you to maintain a healthy Smile 4 A Lifetime.

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