Are Canker Sores Herpes?

Canker sores are red, painful bumps that appear inside the mouth. It’s estimated that 20%-40% of the U.S. population deals them at some point in their lives, and many people with have multiple episodes of them.

Canker sores are red, painful bumps that appear inside the mouth. It’s estimated that 20%-40% of the U.S. population deals them at some point in their lives, and many people with have multiple episodes of them.

Canker sores vs. cold sores

There is some confusion about canker sores. Some people believe canker sores and cold sores are one in the same. It’s not the case. Canker sores are inside the mouth while cold sores are outside. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus. This virus causes the painful blisters and can be treated but not cured. Creams can calm the pain and can clear the redness and swelling up to one or two days faster than no treatment. Typically, cold sores do go away on their own within a week or two, according to WebMD.

Causes of canker sores

The exact causes of canker sores is unknown, but according to the Mayo Clinic the following are triggers:

  • A minor injury to your mouth from dental work, overzealous brushing, sports mishaps, spicy or acidic foods, or an accidental cheek bite
  • Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Food sensitivities, particularly to chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese and highly acidic foods, such as pineapple
  • A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron
  • An allergic response to certain bacteria in your mouth
  • Hormonal shifts during menstruation
  • Emotional stress

When to see a doctor

While most canker sores heal on his or her own, there are times when a doctor should be consulted. According to the Mayo Clinic people should consult a doctor if they experience:

  • Unusually large canker sores
  • Recurring sores, with new ones developing before old ones heal
  • Persistent sores, lasting three weeks or more
  • Sores that extend into the lips themselves (vermilion border)
  • Pain that you can’t control with self-care measures
  • Extreme difficulty eating or drinking
  • High fever along with canker sores

There is some confusion about canker sores. Some people believe canker sores and cold sores are one in the same. It’s not the case. Canker sores are inside the mouth while cold sores are outside. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus. This virus causes the painful blisters and can be treated but not cured. Creams can calm the pain and can clear the redness and swelling up to one or two days faster than no treatment. Typically, cold sores do go away on their own within a week or two, according to WebMD.

Causes of canker sores

The exact causes of canker sores is unknown, but according to the Mayo Clinic the following are triggers:

  • A minor injury to your mouth from dental work, overzealous brushing, sports mishaps, spicy or acidic foods, or an accidental cheek bite
  • Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Food sensitivities, particularly to chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese and highly acidic foods, such as pineapple
  • A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron
  • An allergic response to certain bacteria in your mouth
  • Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria that cause peptic ulcers
  • Hormonal shifts during menstruation
  • Emotional stress

When to see a doctor

While most canker sores heal on his or her own, there are times when a doctor should be consulted. According to the Mayo Clinic people should consult a doctor if they experience:

  • Unusually large canker sores
  • Recurring sores, with new ones developing before old ones heal
  • Persistent sores, lasting three weeks or more
  • Sores that extend into the lips themselves (vermilion border)
  • Pain that you can’t control with self-care measures
  • Extreme difficulty eating or drinking
  • High fever along with canker sores

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