Would you believe it if we told you that it’s not just you who is confused between canker sores and herpes? In fact, it’s not just you or others like you – even doctors are often stumped!

Hence the question – is canker sore and herpes sore the same?

The answer is NO – and once you go through the info we have unearthed, you will also know how to tell the difference.

So moving on to the first round of canker sore vs. herpes!

 Canker sore

Canker sore is not caused by any particular virus like herpes is. In fact, canker sores can be caused by multiple factors:

  • It could be a sharp tooth that has been rubbing against the soft inner parts of your mouth.
  • Braces can also cause canker sores.
  • Sometimes foods with very high acid content when had frequently can also cause canker.

Herpes sore

Herpes sores however, are caused by the herpes simplex virus. While the human body is capable of fighting most subtypes of the herpes simplex virus, having herpes sores is quite common. In fact, most people will have suffered from cold sores or herpes sores at least once before reaching adulthood, and beyond. 

We have dealt with the more complex aspects of both herpes and canker sores elsewhere, and in greater detail. While the causes are different, doctors and regular people cannot actually always identify herpes sores from canker before they actually break out…this is because the symptoms are not always very prominent – and what does give it away is the place where you get the sore as well as the nature of the sore itself—


The sores are both painful and they tend to look similar, but where the sore breaks out gives a clue to what it is, for instance a canker sore is found to surface inside the mouth –on the soft palate, inside of the cheeks etc. On the other hand, herpes sores will normally break out around the mouth – on your lips, at the lining of the lips, and anywhere on the face. In general herpes sores occur outside the mouth, while canker sores are usually found inside the mouth.

You can also identify what the sore is by the way it looks – a canker sore will normally bea grey or whitish sore with a red border. But a herpes sore is more like a collection of blisters, and they take on a yellowish tint after a while and have pus.

Here is a video that will help you get the differentiating points better—

So that’s it about canker sore vs. herpes – both are equally painful and annoying. And should you get either of these, do explain the symptoms and get a confirmation from your dermatologist…and once you do, only then can the correct treatment commence…because you really don’t want to get the wrong treatments just because you and your doctor couldn’t differentiate between herpes and canker sores!

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