Are canker sores and fever blisters the same thing? And if not, what’s the difference between the two?

Canker sores are different from fever blisters. Canker sores are not contagious, and they only develop inside the mouth. By contrast, fever blisters are extremely contagious and they primarily develop outside the mouth.

Canker sores (sometimes called Apthous ulcers) are small, round or oval-shaped ulcerations in the mouth. These ulcers generally have a white center, surrounded by a red border, and they are typically manifest on the lining of the inside of the cheek, lips, throat and tongue. Canker sores typically heal naturally, without any sort of intervention, in one or two weeks.

Conversely, fever blisters (which are often called cold sores) frequently show up on the outside of the mouth, though they are often found in nearby areas such as the cheeks, nostrils, lips or chin. Fever blisters are infamously contagious, so one should be careful not to kiss or touch other people’s cold sores. Fever blisters are also notorious for spreading to new areas, such as the eyes or genitals. They are often red and filled with fluid. Once they burst, they slowly heal by forming a scab.

Fever blisters sometimes need an anti-viral medication. And if you’re going to be out in the sun, remember that the application of sunscreen to the lips (with a “Sun Protection Factor” of at least 30) can help to prevent sun-induced recurrences of cold sores.

If you find yourself afflicted with a canker sore or a fever blister, or have questions about any of our exceptional dental services, you are welcome to come and see Dr. Silberman. Please call The Silberman Dental Group in Waldorf, Maryland, at (301) 885-2505.