Has a small red bump suddenly appeared on your face? Is it near to your mouth, chin or nostril?
If you don’t normally suffer from skin problems you may be wondering if it’s just a pimple or a dreaded cold sore. There is a big difference between the two.
Is there a tingle?
A pimple and a cold sore can look similar in their early stages, and both can appear near the mouth, but they will feel very different.
Working out whether you’ve got a pimple or a cold sore is relatively easy. Pimples are caused from a blockage in your skin pores. They’re usually red in colour and will develop a white head.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and look like blisters. The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious, and it’s likely that you’ve been infected by a kiss from a friend or relative, or from sharing a drink, towel or eating utensil. Learn more about what causes cold sores.
Before a cold sore appears, you will usually feel a tingling sensation in your skin.
If you felt a tingling sensation before the red bump appeared, then’s it’s likely that it is a cold sore. Read about ways to treat a cold sore properly and zap it fast!
The image on the left below is a pimple, while the image on the right is a cold sore.
Where do cold sores appear?
Cold sores most often appear on the lips, around the mouth and less often around the nostrils and inside the mouth. They can also sometimes appear on the cheeks.
Pimples are caused by the blockage of a skin pore and can appear anywhere that hair folicles are present. This means that they can’t appear directly on a person’s lips.
Who can get them?
Anyone can suffer from pimples and cold sores.
Pimples are most common in teenagers because of hormonal changes that take place during puberty and adolescence.
Many cold sore sufferers are infected with the herpes simplex virus as children. Once infected, the cold sore virus stays with you for life. It will lie dormant in your nervous system until it is activated by a cold sore trigger and a breakout occurs.
Even if you have the HSV-1 virus, it does not necessarily mean that you will suffer from cold sore outbreaks. Statistics show that only 1 in 10 people infected with HSV-1 will actually get a cold sore.
Before a cold sore appears, the skin will usually feel sore and tender with a slight burning, tingling or itchy sensation. A blister like sore will then appear, before cracking, oozing, scabbing an eventually healing. They normally last for 1-2 weeks. A more detailed article on the life-cycle of a cold sore can be found here: Cold Sore Symptoms
Pimples on the other hand, can be painful, but do not usually have the same level or physical discomfort.
Regardless of whether you have a pimple or a cold sore, the same rule applies – don’t touch it!
If you squeeze a pimple, you can force the bacteria blocking the skin pore deeper, making the infection worse. Bursting pimples can also lead to scarring of the skin. Pimple can be easily treated using topical creams. If you have persisten acne, your doctor can recommend other common forms of treatment.
Touching a cold sore is more dangerous – the blister contains a live infection of the herpes simplex virus, and by touching your cold sore you can spread the infection to other parts of your body. In this way it’s extremely easy to spread the infection to other parts of your face.
You can also transfer the virus to your genitals, and in severe cases you can cause serious damage to your eyes.
For a full range of cold sore treatments, check out our guide to Healing Cold Sores Fast – 8 Treatments that Work