Top 17 what do cold sores look like 2024

Treat it: “The best treatment is a tincture of time — wait for it to heal on its own,” says Dr. Zeichner. If the area hurts, an oral numbing gel from the drugstore, like Blistex Kanka Soft Brush Tooth/Mouth Pain Gel Oral Anesthetic/Oral Astringent (Available at Walgreens), can help ease the pain.

The causing agent of cold sores is the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2), which is a common virus. Cold sores are also known as fever blisters [3], oral herpes, or Herpes labialis. A study shows that although about 70% of the population has HSV-1 infection, it does not always show symptoms like a cold sore breakout.

Other lip and mouth irritations — like canker sores and chapped lips — also respond to different treatments, so it’s essential to identify them correctly. After all, they share one thing in common: They’re on your face. So you want them gone — stat.

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Because sores from a cold sore condition are among several symptoms of herpes, the concurrence of other such symptoms helps narrow down the cold sore vs pimple question. As pimples are almost nothing but a clogged pore, the onset of multiple herpes symptoms combined with a lip sore is one of the clearest indications that it is a cold sore, not a pimple.

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2. Home remedies & OTC: Using a cold compress, protecting your lip from direct sunlight, and using over-the-counter (OTC) cream with lidocaine or benzocaine for pain relief can help.

If you are getting pimples repeatedly, Dr. Psomadakis recommends reviewing your products to see if anything you are putting on your lips is clogging the pores there or consider whether you are touching or resting your face in a way that leaves you prone to pimples.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Cold Sore Vs. A Pimple

Cold Sore vs. Pimple: How to Tell the Difference

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Pimples are not contagious, and though they often disappear on their own, they can last for several weeks or longer depending on how deep the infection is and other factors.

Although pimples and oral cold sores look similar at times, they are very different from each other in aspects like causing agents, treatments, and prevention methods. Contact a doctor immediately for severe and long-lasting outbreaks of pimples or cold sores.

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ID it: When trying to distinguish a cold sore vs. a pimple around your lip, it can be helpful to pay attention to how the area feels. The first sign of a zit is general minor soreness or tenderness, rather than the shooting pain or burning that comes with a cold sore. As anyone who’s made it through puberty knows, they can appear anywhere on your face, not just your lip. They also tend to be firmer than cold sores since they’re filled with skin oils and dead skin (not the clear fluid in cold sores). Can a pimple look like a cold sore, you ask? While they can look somewhat similar, one big difference is that pimples often appear solo, rather than in clusters.

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Differentiating between cold sores and pimples early on is important because, unlike pimples, cold sores are contagious. Cold sores and pimples may seem like infected ingrown hairs at first, and even when they get slightly larger, they can both look like pimples. However, this is only true if an infected ingrown hair causes pustules to form.

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They also differ by sensation and the way that they progress over time. With cold sores, there are a variety of other possible symptoms that could occur simultaneously, which can help to determine that it’s a cold sore.

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Herpes symptoms differ widely between individuals. Besides the sores themselves and the itching or tingling sensations that sometimes accompany them, the following other symptoms are possible:

This blog post is based on scientific evidence, written and fact checked by our doctors.

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Treat it: Smooth on a lip balm, like Carmex Classic Medicated Lip Balm Jar (Available at Target), as often as necessary, applying an extra-thick layer before bed. Also, avoid licking your lips or picking at dry skin, which can worsen symptoms.

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The causes of a cold sore vs. a pimple

Being contagious, oral herpes usually develops by direct contact with a person infected by HSV or suffering from cold sores.

If you have a growth or irritation on your lips, you’ll want to find out what is causing it so you can get rid of it fast. Cold sores and pimples on the lips may look similar but the causes and treatments are quite different. While cold sores often cause a burning or tingling sensation and ultimately become a cluster of tiny blisters on the lip, a pimple on the lip is sometimes sore to the touch but lacks the burning sensation of a cold sore. Unlike a cold sore, a pimple usually appears as a single mark anywhere on the face or body.

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