Canker Sores and Herpes

Today, many people complain about repeating mouth sores. The most frequent mouth sores are herpes and canker sores. Since the canker sores and herpes have the same symptoms, they are hard to distinguish when they occur in the mouth. It is significant to distinguish the canker sores and herpes since they have different reasons of occurrence and treatments.



Canker sores are small, external, and quite painful ulcers which are generally seen on the top of the tongue, on soft palate, cheek, lip mucosa, and pharynx in the mouth. In women, relatively more canker sores occur compared to men. In spite of the fact that many factors that accelerate and deteriorate the formation of canker sores are determined, their reason of occurrence has not been totally discovered yet.

Factors that affect the formation of canker sores

Just like in many diseases, stress is one of the main reasons of canker sores. Premenstrual tension in women also triggers the formation of canker sores.

Acid-containing foods such as tomato, vinegar, and citrus fruits, and salty and spicy appetizers are considered among the factors that accelerate the formation of canker sores.

Traumas such as eating hard foods, biting the cheek and lip, and brushing the teeth hardly also pave the way for canker sore formation.

In some specific syndromes such as Behcet’s disease, formation of canker sores in mouth is observed together with other symptoms.

It is also considered that deficiency of vitamin B12 and iron, and a chemical substance in toothpastes also make way for the formation of canker sores.


A certain treatment for canker sores is not found yet. Even if no treatment is administered, a canker sore usually heals on its own with an average of 7-10 days. In order to shorten the healing period, one needs to avoid hot, acid-containing and irritant nutrients. Besides, chlorhexidine containing or saline mouthwashes may also be helpful.



Herpeses are small blisters full of liquid, which are generally seen in extra oral areas such as the lip edge. They can rarely occur inside the mouth, too. Herpeses are generally painful, and this pain begins few days prior to their formation. The blister that forms herpes burst in the course of time, and it becomes an eschar. Herpes heals between 7 and 10 days as an average.

The reason for the occurrence of the herpes is a virus called herpes simplex. This virus, which is passive in the people who have suffered herpes previously, becomes active and makes way to the formation of herpes upon situations such as being exposed to sunlight, stress, trauma, fatigue, and hormonal changes.

Herpes is contagious. The period that continues from the bursting of herpes to total healing of it is the riskiest. Herpes infects by using the belongings of individuals with herpes, or by kissing them. Since it is contagious, it should not be contacted.


Nowadays, antiviral herpes creams are used for herpes treatment. The application of the antiviral herpes creams at the beginning phase of herpes (when it starts to show symptoms) enables a maximum benefit. The cream passes through the skin and affects herpes and thus, it prevents its damage on the skin.

Differences Between Canker Sores and Herpes

Canker sores only appear inside the mouth. On the other hand, herpeses are rarely seen inside the mouth, they generally occur in the extra oral areas.

Canker sores are not contagious, but the herpeses are so.

The formation of the canker sores is not fully clarified yet, but herpes is a viral infection.