What are Cold Sores and Canker Sores?
These are painful sores that are found only inside the mouth, on the tongue, soft palate or inside of the cheek. They are white or gray lesions surrounded by a red border, and often preceded by some tingling or burning. While uncomfortable, canker sores are not contagious. Causes of canker sores vary and can be unclear. Check our blog for more info!
Cold sores present around the outside of the mouth or on the lips in small clusters of blisters that eventually burst and then crust over. They are painful, highly contagious, and caused by the herpes simplex virus. Read our article on 5 things you should know about cold sores for more details!
It’s important to note that cold sores are NOT canker sores. Canker sores, unlike cold sores, will NOT appear on the outside of your mouth, and don’t blister in the same way.
Treatment Options for Cold and Canker Sores
While there is a distinct difference between cold sores and canker sores, there is a bit of overlap in the treatment options for each. Below we’ve compiled a list of options that we’ve either come across in research, been turned on to from overwhelming consumer reviews or had success with in our office. Everyone is different and certain treatments will work better for some than others, so we encourage you to try multiple remedies until you find the one that works for you!
- Abreva is touted as the only FDA approved, clinically tested medication to shorten both healing time and duration of symptoms, Abreva is recommended in most every discussion on cold sores out there.
- Acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex) are all available by prescription from your doctor and are the three anti-virals most commonly associated with cold sore treatment.
- Johnson Compeed: these patches use the active ingredient hydrocolloid 075, and are one of the best reviewed products for cold sore relief.
- Debacterol: we’ve had great luck with this liquid topical agent in our office. It does need to be acquired through a healthcare professional and can be applied either by your dentist or at home. It provides immediate pain relief, acts as a seal over the sore and aids the natural healing process.
- Canker Rid: this all natural product from Durham bee farm gets killer reviews, and uses honey bee propolis for pain relief and to speed healing.
- Colgate Total Advanced ProShield: Colgate’s new rinse, or any antimicrobial/antiseptic mouth rinse that does not contain alcohol, will help to keep your mouth clean and provide a good environment for healing. Not only will it kill harmful bacteria that might lengthen the recovery process, the lack of alcohol means it won’t dry your tissues.
- Corticosteroid treatments: Your doctor can prescribe a topical steroid ointment for frequent occurrences to help lessen duration and symptoms.
Recommended for Both
- Anbesol: while it won’t shorten your healing time or the duration of the symptoms, the numbing properties of this oral, topical analgesic can help you manage the pain associated with both cold and canker sores.
- Zilactin: this medicated gel uses the active ingredient benzocaine and is highly reviewed for both types of sores. In addition to offering pain relief, the gel forms a protective film over the sore to help reduce and prevent irritation from eating, drinking other contact.
- In-office laser treatment: This needs to be done within the first day or two of occurrence, but if done early enough it can halt the progression of the lesion. Contact our office today for details
With all products, please be sure to use an applicator and not your fingers. Using your fingers can spread bacteria and encourage the eruption of sores in other areas.