Canker Sores Vs. Cold Sores


Canker sores and cold sores tend to be confused. Not only do these little health nuisances affect our mouths, but they also sound alike. The similarities between the two conditions, however, are few.

Symptoms of Cold Sores

Cold sores begin as small blisters around the lips. They grow, burst, crust over and then heal.

Symptoms of Canker Sores

Canker sores emerge as circular sores with a grayish exterior, appearing on the inside of the lips, cheeks and throat.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes cold sores. The cause of canker sores remains unknown.

Is It contagious?

Canker sores aren’t contagious. Cold sores, on the other hand, are caused by the HSV, which is very contagious.


Antiviral drugs like acyclovir or valacyclovir can be used for the treatment of cold sores to reduce the number of outbreaks. Antibiotics like tetracycline treat canker sores by promoting healing, although canker sores usually heal without intervention.

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