Canker Sores, Cold Sores, and Chancres. Do They Make You Confused?

You can experience some types of sores on the mouth or in the genitals at some points in your life. Sometimes, three types of sores, including canker sores, cold sores, and chancres are frequently confused. Because of the same forms and locations, they can be mistaken. However, they’re different conditions caused by different factors. If these kinds of sores make you confused, reading this article may help you understand them clearly.

Canker Sores, Cold Sores, and Chancres. What Are They?

They are different conditions, but you may be still confused because of the similar forms. In fact, canker sores, cold sores, and chancres are

  • Cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus also leads to many cold sore outbreaks.
  • Canker sores are ulcers occurring in the mouth. They look like cold sores, but they are not caused by a virus.
  • These sores are caused by syphilis and often appear on the mouth and genitals.

Canker Sores, Cold Sores, and Chancres. Do They Make You Confused?

If canker sores, cold sores, and chancres make you confused, here’s useful information to help you distinguish them.

1. Canker Sores

Cankers sores are ulcers which occur inside your mouth. They are not an STD and aren’t caused by a virus. Commonly, they are linked to nutritional deficiency and a weakened immune system. People who take a medication, get sick, or have HIV infection are more likely to develop cankers. To distinguish with other types of sores, you should understand symptoms of canker sores, including

  • Painful sores inside the mouth, or on the tongue.
  • The sores are white with a red border
  • Painful and burning feelings before the sores come
  • Swollen lymph node
  • Fever

Canker sores often heal within one or two weeks without treatment. But if you apply topical creams or change your diet, your canker sores heal fast. Ask your healthcare provider some topical creams or home remedies for canker sores.

Canker sores and cold sores are sometimes confused

Canker sores and cold sores are easily confused

2. Cold Sores

Cold sores are sometimes confused with canker sores because of the same position. Cold sores also appear on the mouth, but they are present outside the mouth, not inside the mouth. Along with that, cold sores are caused by a virus. Sometimes, having oral sex with a person who has genital herpes also puts you at risk of getting cold sores. If canker sores and cold sores make you confused, you should look at the symptoms of cold sores, such as

  • Tingling and itching sensation at the affected
  • Small blisters or sores occur on the lips, around the mouth or in your nose, or on the cheeks
  • Cold sores may break open, crust, and heal over a period of one or two weeks

If you develop cold sores for the first time, you also suffer from fever, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches. As herpes is a highly contagious, cold sores can spread easily. You may contract this virus through kissing, touching the fluid-fill of blisters, or sharing the utensils.

Because of a viral infection, cold sores need to be treated with antiviral medications. Ask your healthcare provider about topical creams or medications for cold sores, such as Prosurx or Acyclovir.

Related: The Dos and Don’ts of Removing Cold Sores

3. Chancres

A chancre is the first stage of syphilis and most often found on the genitals. Chancres sores appear as a round shape and painless. They can be found on the mouth, lips, tongue, anus, breast, and nipple. Sometimes, chancres and cankers sores can make people confused. But unlike canker sores, chancres are painless and often go unnoticed. It means that people with syphilis may not know they have had it until they get syphilis tested. This is true if chancres occur within your mouth. Because of oral sex, syphilis increases over time.

Chancre sores usually last from 3 to 6 weeks. If you left untreated, syphilis will progress to the secondary stage. Thus, if you notice round painless sores after having unprotected sex, you should get tested and ask your doctor about the treatment soon. Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics.

Chancres of syphillis on the lips

Chancres of syphillis on the lips

How to Prevent Canker Sores, Cold Sore, and Chancres

You may get sores at some point in your life because of many reasons. To reduce your risk of developing sores, you should

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet provides enough nutrient to your body and boosts your immune system at the same time. Thanks to that, canker sores are hard to come, and a healthy immune system also helps to fight off cold sores.
  • Take extra vitamins. For those who often suffer from canker sores or cold sores should take extra vitamins, like vitamin C or lysine supplement. These aim to prevent cold sore outbreaks and lower the risk of canker sores.
  • Practice a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle promotes your immune system which helps to fight off foreign invaders. Exercises, stress reduction, and positive thought are useful to prevent sores.
  • Have a healthy sex life. Most STDs spread through unprotected sex. If you want to prevent sores of STDs, it’s crucial to have a healthy sex life. Always wear condoms every time you engage with sex. Also, ask your partner’s sexual history before having sex to lower the risk of STDs and sores.

Canker sores, cold sores, and chancres sometimes make you confused, but each infection has specific symptoms. If you develop a type of sores and be unsure what type of sores you get, the above information is helpful for you.