Cold, Canker & Mouth Sores

Cold sores, canker, and mouth sores are painful lesions that occur in the mouth and on the lips.

Cold sores are caused by a strain of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). This virus causes a fluid-filled blister, sometimes called a fever blister, on or around the lips. The blisters may form a small cluster or patch. Eventually, the blisters will break and scab.

Certain things can trigger cold sore outbreaks. These include:

  • Viral infections
  • Fevers
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Sun exposure or sunburn
  • Immune system changes
  • Injury to the skin

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Treatment of cold sores involves antiviral medication with either a cream or pills. Antiviral medications reduce the severity and length of a cold sore outbreak.

Canker sores or mouth sores usually occur inside the mouth. They may be on the tongue, gums, inside the cheek, or lips. Canker sores are not spreadable like a cold sore.

Causes of canker sores include:

  • Mouth injury
  • Food sensitivity
  • Lack of vitamin B12 or iron
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress

Canker sores will often resolve in a week or two without treatment, but for those that are larger or more painful, a prescription mouth rinse can help with pain and speed healing.

If you experience lip or mouth sores, our healthcare providers can help you determine what is causing them and recommend treatment to help reduce pain and heal the area.