Oral and mouth sores, like canker sores, are small ulcers or open sores that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable. Often these sores tingle, burn, and are very painful. While the exact cause of most of these sores is often unknown, these oral and mouth sores are not considered to be contagious.
Cold sores usually appear on the lips. In some cases, cold sores appear on nostrils, cheeks, or fingers. Prior to a cold sore, the skin area may feel itchy, tingly, or sensitive. A cluster of small, painful, fluid-filled blisters appear in the affected area.
Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are extremely contagious. In most cases, people become infected with the virus in childhood. The first time a person is infected, symptoms may include mouth, lip or facial sores, sore throat, fever, aching, tiredness, problems with eating, and swollen glands. The virus then stays inactive in the body (sometimes for months or years), until an active infection occurs and cold sores result.
Cold sores are caused by Herpes simplex virus type 1, or, less often, herpes simplex type 2 (the cause of genital herpes). The virus is spread from person to person by contact with fluid from a cold sore, saliva, contact with an item that has the germs on it, or sharing food or drinks with an infected person. The blisters and open sores can spread the virus until they heal. Risk factors, including physical or emotional stress, illness, menstruation, and more, may trigger an outbreak of cold sores, but they can also recur for unknown reasons.
Healthcare Clinic can evaluate your cold sores and other oral/mouth sores and ulcers to determine the course of treatment right for you. In many cases, self-care can be used to successfully treat oral, mouth and cold sores. Apply ice to the affected area or use non-prescription products for cold sores to ease the discomfort of the symptoms. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe antiviral drugs to treat your cold sores.*
This treatment is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
1 Prescriptions written when clinically appropriate. Patients have a choice of pharmacy.
2 Service is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.