Treating Cold Sores and Canker Sores
Find out how to handle these common but uncomfortable oral conditions.
While cold sores and canker sores aren’t the same thing, they are both issues that happen to many children and adults. Our Mesa, AZ, dentist Dr. Julee Weidner is here to explain what they are, why they happen and what you can do if one (or both) of these problems arise.
What is a cold sore?
A cold sore (sometimes referred to as a fever blister) is characterized by an outbreak of painful blisters that develop on or around the mouth, most often on the lips, that often burn or itch before crusting over and resolving on their own. This is the result of an infection known as the herpes simplex virus, more specifically a strain of HSV-1. While the condition isn’t serious it is extremely contagious, and can be passed on to others through contact with the sore.
What is a canker sore?
Unlike a cold sore that causes a blister, a canker sore is a superficial ulcer within the mouth that can make it painful to talk or chew food. While this is more common in younger individuals, those who have a history of canker sores may experience them throughout their lives. Symptoms usually last about a week before they go away on their own.
The cause of canker sores is unknown; however, it’s believed that stress, injury to oral tissue and certain acidic foods (e.g. lemons; tomatoes) can cause a canker sore to develop or can exacerbate symptoms. In some cases, certain health conditions such as celiac disease, a weakened immune system or nutritional deficiencies can lead to canker sores.
How are cold sores and canker sores treated?
Since the root causes of these sores are very different, our Mesa, AZ, will recommend different ways to treat them. While you can just let either of them run their course, there are ways to manage symptoms and reduce the length of time you have to deal with these issues.
Treating a cold sore: There are a variety of different medications out there, both over-the-counter and prescription that can shorten the duration of a cold sore and lessen symptoms. If your cold sore symptoms are severe enough then you may want to talk to a doctor about a prescription-strength topical or oral medication to help.
Treating a canker sore: A canker sore will go away on its own; however, there are ways to manage the discomfort such as rinsing your mouth out with a baking soda or saltwater rinse. Also, avoid citrus and acidic foods, which can make symptoms worse. In cases where the pain is severe, a doctor may prescribe a stronger mouth rinse or a topical numbing agent.
Are you experiencing cold sores or canker sores in Mesa, AZ, and unsure how to best treat it? If this is the first time you’re experiencing this you may not even know what it is; however, if you are experiencing any sores in or around your mouth it’s important that you turn to the experts at Dental Care of Mesa for an evaluation.