Cold Sore or Pimple?

Cold sore or pimple? A cold sore is often called a fever blister. These blisters usually appear in patches around the mouth and can be spread from person to person. A pimple is caused when a hair follicle becomes plugged and may appear anywhere on the body. Sometimes, discerning whether a lesion is a cold sore or pimple may be very difficult. This article will highlight the differences and treatments for each.

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Differences between Cold Sore and Pimple

Cold sores and pimples can be found in men and women of any age. They may look very similar, so it is helpful to understand the differences in the two conditions.


Cold Sore



Usually around the mouth; sometimes on the genitals.

May appear anywhere on the body, but NEVER on the lips.


Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1).

Clogging of hair follicles caused by oil production that may be increased by hormones, stress, or diet.


Pain and burning before the sore develops; once the sore develops and ruptures, pus will drain and a scab will develop.

No burning or tingling before a pimple develops; pimples do not open on their own.


Because they are caused by a virus, cold sores can be passed by direct contact with an infected person.

Because they are caused by clogged pores, pimples are not contagious.

Who Gets It

Anyone can get cold sores; they are commonly seen in small children

Commonly found in teenagers as hormones become active, anyone can have a pimple.


Develop on the lips and around the mouth; may also less commonly appear around the nostrils.

Anywhere on the body where there is hair; do not appear on the lips.

Hurt Or Not

Initially itchy before the sore appears, then painful as crusting begins.

Not as painful; usually no itching before they appear.

Crusting Behavior

Sores break open and ooze pus; Yellow crust forms over the sore.

Typically, do not break open without squeezing; crusting will only occur if infection develops.

Treatments for Cold Sore

1. Home Remedies for Cold Sore

Cold sores will usually go away without treatment; however, some of these treatments may hasten a cure.

2. Medications for Cold Sore

Several prescription medications may help speed up healing of cold sores. Antiviral medications such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, Famciclovir, and Penciclovir are a few of the prescription drugs that your healthcare provider may want you to try. For very severe infections, your doctor may want you to try an antiviral medication administered in the vein.

Treatments for Pimple

Pimples can be treated. Home remedies and medical treatments can both be tried.

1. Home Remedies for Pimple

2. Medical Treatments for Pimple

When to See a Doctor

If you are not sure about the causes of your symptoms, please go see your doctor. He will help you find it out. Improper treatment of either of these conditions may lead to infections and scarring.

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