There is an actual difference between cold sores and canker sores. In fact, they even develop in different parts of the mouth. The canker sore is found inside the mouth, and is basically a small ulcerated area near the front of the mouth. Their development can complicate things like eating and talking, and can be very painful.
There are actually two variations of the canker sore. There are the simple and the complex versions. The simple canker sore is likely to develop, maybe, four times a year, and is most common in people between the ages of ten and twenty. The complex canker sore is not as common, lasts longer, and generally attacks those who have previously experienced canker sores.
The cold sore is found along the outside of the mouth; usually right along the edge of the lips. Unlike the canker sore, which maintains its appearance, except in size, throughout its occupation in the mouth, the cold sore evolves through stages of development and healing. Fever blisters are commonly referred to as cold sores, which start off as one, or multiple red bumps. As they mature, the cold sores become inflamed and irritated, showing up bright red. The next stage usually leads to the breaking of the cold sores. Once the skin is broken, a clear liquid oozes from the sore. Once the fluid has leaked, the cold sores crust over and start the healing process. They usually last between twelve and sixteen days.
Canker sores can be caused by some sort of tissue damage in the mouth. Whether you simply bite the inside of your cheek too hard, have dentures or braces that aren’t fitting well, or eat foods that cause damage to your mouth’s tissue, there is always some sort of direct cause for their appearance.
Cold sores are caused by a virus. The virus is known as the herpes simplex virus, which is the same virus that causes genital herpes. Cold sores can be passed from one person to another, through mouth to mouth contact, mouth to genital contact, or mouth to object to mouth contact. Sharing a fork or straw with someone who has existing cold sores, is just as risky as kissing them on the lips while they have active cold sores.
Canker sores generally do not come with additional symptoms, except perhaps pain, and any residual discomfort on the tongue if the sore was caused by acidic or spicy foods. Cold sores can be accompanied by pain, fevers, swollen glands, and even sometimes drooling.
Treatment isn’t all that effective for either sore. Treatment creams and ointments may only lessen their duration by one or two days.