Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is Canker Sore a Herpes Symptom?

Recently, I received a question from one of our readers: Is canker sore a symptom of herpes?
Just based on this single statement I knew that she was mixing up with canker sore and herpes. Then, I thought as a layman, many people might be getting confused with these two disorders, and today I decided to write a short article covering these topics.

Even though these disorders usually affect oral area, there is a vast difference between them. Lets talk about them one by one briefly. Canker sore is a common disorder affecting millions of people all over the world. An alternative name for canker sore is aphthous ulcer and is used synonymously. Canker sores are usually oval or round in shape with yellowish or whitish center and has red border. They are usually inside the oral cavity on your tongue, gum and inner side of lip or cheeks, but never on the surface of  your lip or corner of your mouth. Sometimes, tingling and burning can be associated with it. Occasionally you may also have fever and lymph node enlargement. There are different types of canker such as minor, major, and herpetiform, but the most common one is minor which has oval shape and heals without scaring in couple of weeks. The good thing is that in many cases no special treatment is required and most people recover from it without any complication in 1-2 weeks. It is worth noting that cancer sores are not contagious.

On the other hand, the word herpes scares most people even though oral herpes is not a sexually transmitted disease. Oral herpes is so common that most of us might have encountered it or would certainly encounter in our lifetime. Oral herpes is also known as fever blisters, cold sore. In contrast to canker sores, herpes usually affect your mouth, lips and other surrounding skin, but in some cases it can also appear inside your mouth. Herpes is contagious and can be transmitted to others very easily by skin to skin contact or kissing. They usually present with tingling, pain and itching followed by painful fluid filled blisters; these blisters rupture and become sore and ultimately heal without any treatment. The outbreak may usually range from 1-2 weeks. Just keep in mind that the risk of transmitting infection is very high during active oral outbreaks as compared to asymptomatic phase. It is also important to note that at present there is no cure for herpes, which means that infected virus will stay in your body forever just to cause recurrent outbreaks in future.

I think by now many people might differentiate canker sores from oral herpes. The aim of the article is to make you aware of these two disorders which may have similar overlapping symptoms. An ability to differentiate these two conditions would also put your mind at rest and avoid all those hassles for doctor visit.

You can also read my previous post on herpes from these links. 

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