What are Canker Sores? And What Aren’t They?

Many people mistakenly refer to any sore in the mouth region as a canker sore. In fact, canker and cold sores seem to have been morphed together to mean the same thing, but that is far from reality. Canker sores are actually a type of aphthous ulcer, while cold sores are herpes lesions.

How to tell Canker Sores from HerpesNearly everyone understands what a herpes lesion looks like, particularly when they form on the lip. At first, they take on the form of a bubble, and then they turn crusty. It is helpful, however, to learn what these lesions become when they form just inside the lip region. They can easily become confused with an aphthous ulcer, and there is certainly a difference between the two. One individual wanted to better understand the difference between the two different types of sores, so he set out to ask various educators and practitioners in the field to determine the answer.

Basically, it was uncovered that canker sores are bacterial in nature, while cold sores take on the form of a virus. Canker sores form on the mucous membranes of the mouth region, while cold sores become a part of keratinized tissue. That may seem like a simple generalization, but it certainly helps to clarify the differences between these two types of frustrating sores that many people have to deal with at various points during the life.

How to tell Canker Sores from HerpesThe more that is learned about aphthous ulcers, the more researchers discover that there is still much to learn. There have been numerous theories that have been proposed over the years, and countless treatment options presented as well. Some professionals in the field still think that the ulcers and lesions are one and the same.

This line of thought most likely enters in because both share some of the same unique qualities. Both the ulcers and lesions are recurrent, and they are painful. They are also superficial and occur in the region of the mouth, lasting anywhere from one to two weeks.

Both cold sores and canker sores typically heal on their own, almost as quickly as they formed, and they leave no scare. There are occasions when the sores affect the lymph nodes in the region, and in some advanced cases the ulcers begin to look more and more like herpes.

Most professionals practicing in areas of oral medicine, however, agree the canker and cold sores, or ulcers and lesions, are two entirely separate maladies. There are some important and key differences that must be mentioned between the two. Cold sores, for example, are very contagious, yet canker sores are not. Cold sores are herpes lesions because the herpes virus itself creates them. This virus is actually stored in an area of the body referred to as the nerve ganglions. Canker sores also have some distinct qualities. They occur on tissues that are nonkeratizined, and develop on the bottom of the mouth, or under and to either side of the tongue.

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