Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores: Their Causes & Natural Cures

Updated on January 21st, 2020
Canker Sore vs Cold Sores

The little painful bumps on your mouth can be canker sores or cold sores, but these are often treated to be similar owing to their symptoms and effects. While cold sores and canker sores may seem identical from outside, they are entirely different from each other by their causes and treatments.

Hence to treat them effectively it is necessary to know the difference between them. This article deals with cold sores vs canker sores and enlightens you about the significant differences that may help you in identifying them and follow correct home remedies to treat them.

Canker Sores

Canker Sores

The small, painful lesions that develop in your mouth are Canker Sores. These are a circular or oval-shaped yellow or white bumps with a red border. Canker sores can be painful and are often called mouth ulcers.

These can occur anywhere inside the mouth usually the soft areas of the mouth like under the tongue or gums, on the inside of your cheek or lip, etc. While these do not pose any health hazard and disappear in a week or two, these can cause a lot of discomfort while eating and speaking.

[Also Know: Mouth Ulcer Home Remedies]

Hence, if you are facing any such trouble then follow some natural home remedies(1) that help you get rid of the pain quick and fast.


The cause of canker sore is not known. But several factors can lead to the formation of such lesions. Some of the known factors that can cause canker sores are as follows:

  • A cut or bruise on the inside of your mouth. It can happen due to brushing, an accident or a cheek bite.
  • Presence of specific type of bacteria in the mouth that has caused an allergic reaction.
  • The feeling of sensitivity towards a particular kind of food.
  • Excessive Stress (Emotional or Hormonal).
  • Use of oral hygiene products that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Toothpaste and mouthwash high in SLS content can cause canker sores.
  • Diet deficient in Vitamin B-12, iron, zinc and folic acid.
  • Diseases like AIDS and Celiac can also cause canker sores.

Home Remedies

Canker sores get healed within a week’s time or two. However, their appearance can cause a lot of trouble and discomfort hampering your daily routine.

If you are facing a lot of pain and wish to get rid of canker sores as soon as possible then here are mentioned a few effective remedies that can quickly help you out in solving your sore trouble.

1. Salt Water

rinse your mouth with salt water

Salt water is one of the best home remedies for canker sores. As soon as you sight a canker sore in your mouth, rinse your mouth with salt water.

It is a natural disinfectant that cleans your mouth. Further, it also helps in relieving you from the severe pain and accelerates the healing process of the sore.

  • To make salt water solution add a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of warm water
  • Rinse your mouth with this solution as often as you can to treat the sore

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is known to have numerous health benefits. The presence of acetic acid in the vinegar makes it an excellent ingredient for maintaining oral health. Apple cider vinegar is an adequate remedy against canker sores as the acetic acid present in it helps curb harmful bacteria.

You can include the apple cider vinegar in your diet as a salad dressing or directly use it in cooking to extract the benefits. Otherwise, you can also make an apple cider vinegar mouthwash for excellent oral health. To make the mouthwash follow the following steps-

  • You need to add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water
  • Rinse your mouth with it
  • You can even swallow the solution as apple cider vinegar is quite good for the health of your digestive system too

Apple Cider vinegar is highly acidic thus dilute it properly to avoid any harmful effect.

3. Chamomile Tea with a Dash of Honey

Chamomile is known to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that are known to be quite useful in treating canker sores.

  • To heal canker sores, brew a strong chamomile tea, let it cool and after that rinse your mouth with it
  • Alternatively, you can wet chamomile tea bag in water and put it directly on the sore to reduce pain and inflammation
  • The best way would be to add a little honey to the tea which further enhances the antiseptic properties of the tea making it much more effective in treating canker sores

4. Apply Clove Oil

Clove oil is a valuable ingredient for those who wish to maintain good oral health and is known to treat canker sores. Application of clove oil directly soothes the pain of the sore as the oil contains Eugenol which is a natural painkiller.

Hence, if you are in a lot of pain due to canker sore then apply clove oil directly on the sore to relieve the pain. Alternatively, you can also rinse your mouth with clove oil.

  • To apply clove oil first rinse your mouth with salt water
  • Dab a ball of cotton in a mixture of olive oil (half teaspoon) and clove oil (5-6 drops)
  • After that apply the cotton ball on the sore and lightly press it on the region for around 10 minutes to get relief from the pain

5. Consume Fenugreek

Fenugreek is known to provide numerous health benefits. It is a rich source of various vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, vitamin C, calcium, riboflavin, carotene, phosphorus, etc.

The presence of so many nutrients makes it highly effective in boosting the health of the immune system and promoting better dental health. You can include fenugreek in your diet to see its benefits or go for direct application for quick healing of canker sores.

  • Add a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in cold water
  • Rinse your mouth with this mixture to treat canker sores

After learning about canker sores, their causes and effective remedies have a look at what are cold sores.

Cold Sores

Cold Sores

Cold sores are blisters that can appear around the mouth, on lips and nose. These are fluid-filled bumps and often occur in clusters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores do not appear on the inside of the mouth, and they ooze after some time of their formation.

These appear quickly on an area where you feel a tingling sensation and after that break leaving behind a layer that looks like a mark or a crust. This mark takes time to heal which can be around three to four weeks.

Now as you have learned what a cold sore is as know how it is different from a canker sore, check out what causes cold sores.


Cold sores are not in any manner related to the common cold as one may believe. These are a viral infection caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 1(HSV). The virus is the primary cause of canker sores and are contagious unlike canker sores and get spread quickly.

Hence you need to be careful with them and get them treated as soon as possible. Once you start getting cold sores, these would keep on occurring all through your life with breaks in between.

The environment also plays a causative factor in the case of cold sores. To effectively prevent them it is necessary to maintain a healthful lifestyle.

Home Remedies

Cold sores are unsightly and quite painful. Hence, it is better to treat them as soon as you start getting that tingling feeling which warns of a cold sore. Here are provided some effective natural cures that help to manage them efficiently.

1. Cold Tea Bag

Cold sores can be extremely painful and cause a lot of trouble. Thus, instead of waiting for them to happen, be proactive and get into action at the very first sensation of a cold sore.

  • To treat it effectively, take a wet tea bag, cool it
  • Apply it on the area where you expect the cold sore to occur
  • You need to press the tea bag on the field for at least 10 minutes
  • Do this three to four times a day to reduce the severity of the outbreak of the cold sore

2. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera Gel for cold sore

Aloe Vera is known to have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that make it quite useful in case of cold sores.

  • Extract pure Aloe Vera(2) gel from the leaf of the plant and apply it directly to the cold sore area
  • You need to do this three to four times daily for the sore to diminish
  • Application of aloe vera will soothe our skin and will also protect it from bacteria

3. Tea Tree Oil

After learning about canker sores vs cold sores, you would know that cold sores require a different treatment. One effective treatment for cold sores is Tea tree oil. The oil is beneficial as it has antiseptic, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that can accelerate the healing of cold sores.

  • To use it effectively, pour few drops of the tea tree oil on a cotton ball
  • Dab that cotton ball on the affected area
  • Do this three to four times a day to see quick results

[Also Read: Tea Tree Oil Benefits for Cold Sore]

4. Lemon Balm Essential Oil

Lemon Balm Essential Oil for cold sores

Lemon Balm essential oil is the most effective remedy against cold sores. The essential oil is known to kill the Herpes Virus that causes cold sores. By eliminating the virus, it directly treats the cold sores and relieves you from all the pain. Thus, as soon as you feel a tingling sensation of a severe sore underway, do the following.

  • Put one or two drops of the lemon balm essential oil(3) on the area
  • Place an ice cube on it
  • Compress the field with the ice cube for around 10 minutes
  • After that apply a layer of petroleum jelly on the region to prevent the cold sore from cracking
  • Do this several times a day to see the results

If you are quick in reacting, then it might be that the cold sore never emerges

[Read More: Health Benefits of Lemon Balm]

5. Cornstarch Paste

Another effective way to treat a cold sore is to apply cornstarch paste on the affected area. Cold sores are known to occur in acidic environments, and cornstarch helps in neutralizing the pH value of the field thus assisting in the quick treatment of the cold sores.

  • Take some cornstarch and add it to water to make a paste
  • Apply this cornstarch paste to the affected area to heal the sore
  • Do this regularly to see the cold sore disappear in no time

Please note that cold sores are caused due to a virus and can happen at any time due to certain conditions that trigger their formation. The remedies mentioned above help to treat them but do not eliminate the chances of the sores occurring again.

Bottom Line

After reading about cold sores vs canker sores, you will now be clear about how both of them are different. The natural remedies mentioned for both the types of sores are known to cure them effectively.

The treatments you employ will work if you use the correct procedure for the proper sore. So the very first time you encounter a sore, first identify it and after that apply the provided remedies.

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