Fever Blisters and Canker Sores
If you have been bothered by a sore in your mouth that made it painful to eat and talk, you are not alone. Many others suffer from recurrent mouth sores. Two of the most common recurrent oral lesions are fever blisters (cold sores) and canker sores (aphthous ulcers). When they occur in the mouth, it may be difficult to distinguish one from the other. Since the treatment and cause of these two sores are completely different, it is extremely important to know which is which.
What are fever blisters (cold sores)?
Can fever blisters be spread?
Prevention Tips:Avoid mucous membrane contact when a lesion is present. Do not squeeze, pinch or pick at the blister. Wash hands carefully before touching your eyes or genital area, or another person. Despite all caution, it is important to remember that it is possible to transmit herpes virus even when no blisters are present.
What are canker sores?Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small, shallow ulcers occurring on the tongue, soft palate or inside the lips and cheeks. They are quite painful and usually last 5-10 days.
The best available evidence suggests that canker sores result from an altered local immune response associated with stress, trauma or local irritants such as eating acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits and some nuts).
Can canker sores be spread?
No. Since they are not caused by bacteria or viral agents, they cannot be spread locally or to anyone else.
The treatment works to relieve discomfort and guard against infection. A topical corticosteroid preparation such as triamcinolone dental paste (Kenalog in Orabase O.1%®) is helpful. Unfortunately, no cure exists at present.
What about other sores?
For any mouth lesion that does not heal in two weeks, you should see your physician or dentist.