Cold Sore vs Canker Sore
Cold sores and canker sores both affect your mouth. However, they are not the same thing.
A cold sore forms on your lips and is caused by a virus called herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1). There is no cure for HSV-1. It can cause periodic outbreaks of cold sores once you contract the virus.
Canker sores form inside of your mouth, not on the surface of your lips and usually do not form blisters or scab over. They may develop on your tongue, on the inside of the lip tissue, on the roof of your mouth, along your gums and even on your throat. Doctors don't know what causes canker sores, but they do not appear to be caused by a virus or bacteria. They are also not contagious in the way that cold sores are.
Pain Relief Solutions
Canker and cold sores usually both gradually disappear within one to two weeks of when they emerge. You can soothe pain caused by either type of sore in the meantime with the right over-the-counter products. Formulas that contain topical anesthetics like benzocaine can be used to numb the area around the sore in order to alleviate pain. For cold sores, you can find lip balms and salves that contain soothing ingredients like menthol and camphor to reduce discomfort without numbing your skin.
Products to Support Healing
Cold sores can detract from a person's appearance, so many people are anxious for outbreaks to end as soon as they begin. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved one topical over-the-counter drug for use to help speed healing and minimize pain from a cold sore. Called docosanol, it is available in squeeze tubes and pump top containers.
You can also find cold sore ointments and creams that contain benzalkonium chloride. This antiseptic is not FDA-approved for use to promote healing, but it may help cleanse or dry a cold sore.
Natural Options for Canker and Cold Sores
Scientists are currently studying how certain herbs and nutrients may help individuals with HSV-1 and those prone to canker sores deal with outbreaks or reduce their frequency. While there isn't any conclusive evidence that any natural product is 100% effective, you can find natural topical remedies for cold sores and canker sores that contain ingredients some people find to be helpful in easing the symptoms of a cold or canker sore.
In natural cold sore products, you may find the amino acid lysine, a resin made by bees called propolis, the mineral zinc and the herbs lemon balm, aloe vera and rhubarb. Siberian ginseng and peppermint oil are also sometimes used.
Natural canker sore products may contain the herb goldenseal, an extract from plants called quercetin and other herbal ingredients. back to top »