Cold/Canker Sores - Two Different Conditions, Two Different Sets of Remedies
Mouth sores can be a pain, especially when it affects your eating and talking. Two common mouth sores we may hear are cold sores and canker sores. These terms may be confused as being the same condition but in two different names, but they are not. In fact, after you know the difference, telling them apart is quite easy.
Cold sores often occur outside of the mouth; they are fluid-filled and caused by a virus. Canker sores occur inside the mouth; they are small, shallow ulcers and not caused by a virus. In fact, the cause of canker sores are unknown. However, we do know that citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables like lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries attribute to the formation of canker sores. Injury to the gum tissues can also trigger a canker sore, i.e. by a sharp tooth or misfitted denture.
Cold sores, or Herpes simplex labialis (HSL), can be very painful for some people, while some people infected with the virus may not experience any symptoms at all. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus I, actually both herpes simplex I and II can cause cold sores. Once infected with this virus, the virus stays with the affected person for life. To prevent from catching this virus, it is best to avoid contact with fluids of the infected person, for example, kissing, sharing utensils, drinking cups, and anything else the person with a cold sore may have used.
Cold sores usually go away after a few days on their own, but there are remedies over the counter to help relieve the symptoms of cold sores. Abreva is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter treatment of cold sores that can reduce the duration of cold sore symptoms, the number of occurrences of cold sores, as well as relieving the pain. Abreva contains the active ingredient docosanol 10%, that's used to treat cold sores. Other remedies that you may try to relieve the pain from cold sores are topical analgesics, like benzocaine; you can find products containing these ingredients at your local pharmacy over-the-counter. There are also natural lysine-containing products that you can use to prevent the spread of cold sores. You can also look for the common ingredients types: analgesics (menthol, camphor, phenol), and skin protectants with sunscreen (dimethicone allantoin; dimethicone being the sunscreen ingredient).