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Mouth Sores: Canker & Cold Sores
Canker sores are usually small whitish-gray sores with a red border. They appear in the mouth and are caused by a variety of things, such as bacteria, viruses, or immune system issues. Stress, trauma, allergies, or certain kinds of food can also cause canker sores. They are not contagious, and usually heal within one to two weeks, and discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter rinses or gels that contain anesthetic.
Cold sores appear as small blisters on and around the lips. This herpes simplex virus type 1 infection is very contagious. Once a person is infected, the virus can be inactive, or it can be active and the sores can appear after sun exposure, stress, or illness. These will usually heal in a week or so, and treatment can be over-the-counter topical anesthetics to relieve any discomfort, or an antiviral prescription to reduce occurrence of the outbreak.
Other mouth sores or changes within the mouth should be discussed with your doctor or dentist. Oral cancer screenings are a routine part of your dental checkups.