Difference Between Herpes and Canker Sores

Herpes and canker sores are two prevalent illnesses that afflict individuals of all genders and races in their mouths. Because their appearances within the mouth are similar, they are frequently mistaken. While some individuals use the names interchangeably, these illnesses’ etiology, appearance, and symptoms are quite different.


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Herpes vs Canker Sores

The difference between Herpes and Canker sores is that of the area of occurrence. While herpes appears outside the mouth, canker sores seem to appear inside the mouth, found on both sides.

Herpes vs Canker Sores

Herpes is caused by an infection with that of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). results in the formation of blisters or sores in and around the mouth or genital area and other indications. There are 2 types of HSV.  HSV-1 produces oral herpes, which damages the mouth and surrounding tissues, while HSV-2 causes genital herpes, which is frequently transferred sexually.

Canker sores only appear in the mouth’s soft tissue structures, just like on the gums or within the cheeks. They can be caused by a wide variety of circumstances, which include oral injuries and vitamin shortages. It also comes in a variety of sizes ranging from little to huge. Massive canker sores, also known as major canker sores, can be unpleasant and take a very long time to cure.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHerpesCanker Sores
Area of occurrenceOutside the mouthInside of the mouth
Degree of presenceGrouped on one corner of the mouthFound on both sides
ExpansionDevelop from a blisterBegins as a painful sore 
AppearanceMultiple lesions grouped on the very same reddish groundLittle oval sore with a red perimeter and a white/yellow core
IntensityRelatively superficial and temporary Develops further into the tissue, and can be seen or sensed 

What is Herpes?

Herpes is a viral family that causes open sores and blisters. Numerous patients who contract herpes have no symptoms. When the symptoms are modest, they are often misdiagnosed as another skin ailment.

Signs may include severe genital sores, buttock, or thigh, itchiness, burning sensation during urinating and uncomfortable lumps in the crotch. You may suffer flu-like symptoms during the first outbreak (known as primary herpes). Body pains, fever, and headache are some of these symptoms.

Many persons with herpes will have outbreaks of blisters and symptoms from time to time. Symptoms are frequently milder than in the initial epidemic. The frequency of breakouts tends to diminish with time as well.

The virus might invade your body through a flesh break. It can also infiltrate your body through your mouth’s skin or urinary system entrance.

Herpes is most easily transmitted when blisters or sores are visible on the afflicted individual. However, it can expand at any time, even if the individual with herpes is not feeling any indications. Herpes can also transmit from one location on one’s body to the next.

What is Canker Sore?

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are noncancerous ulcers that develop in the soft tissue structures of the mouth. They are typically spherical, white lesions with a crimson border that can cause agony over many days.

It is unknown what generates canker sores, however, stress, slight damage within the mouth, dietary allergies, and other nutritional deficits may all be factors.

Canker sores, unlike cold sores, are not sexually transferred. They are also not communicable, despite the fact that they may be linked with contagious illnesses. Canker sores, for example, are more prevalent in people with chronic HIV infection due to the virus’s detrimental effects on the body.

The majority of canker sores do not require treatment. They will usually heal on their own in one to three weeks. Serious sores or those that linger after this threshold, on the other hand, should be examined.

Canker sores on a regular basis may indicate that you have underlying health issues. You might not have been getting enough of particular vitamins and minerals in your diet. One should consider the attention of a healthcare practitioner if a canker sore becomes unusually big, unbearably painful, lasts more than three weeks, or is accompanied by a high fever.

Main Differences Between Herpes And Canker Sores

  1. Herpes sores mainly affect the transitioning layers of the body where mucosa encounters skin, and they are located outside the mouth. Meanwhile, canker sores are constantly on the inside of the mouth, impacting its inner layer: the gums, tongue, and even throat.
  2. Herpes sores are grouped on one corner of the mouth and seldom cross the centerline, whereas Canker sores can be found on both sides. 
  3. Herpes sores develop from a blister (fluid-filled sac), whereas a canker sore begins as a painful sore and stays like that until they heal
  4. Multiple lesions grouped on the very same reddish ground are known as herpes sores. A herpes mouth sore’s base appears clear, whereas A canker sore is a little oval sore with a red perimeter and a white/yellow core that appears on its own (base). If there are several sores, healthy cells generally separate them.
  5. Herpes is typically extremely superficial and temporary, however canker sores can develop further into the tissue, as can be seen or sensed (hardness is sensed under the base of where it occurred).
Difference Between Herpes And Canker Sores


  1. https://academic.oup.com/jac/article-abstract/12/5/489/827083
  2. http://www.ident.ws/sites/liebfamdentistry/docs/cankercoldsoresweb.pdf
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