Is It a Pimple or Cold Sore? How to Tell the Difference

Is it a pimple or cold sore? Getting a spot on or near the lips, inside the nostril, or even on the chin can get people searching the internet to find out the answer!

Since both types of blemish affect the face it is quite easy to confuse a spot with a cold sore or the other way around.

However to treat either of them appropriately, find out below how to tell what that red spot that has just appeared actually is!

What is a Pimple?

pimple or cold soreA spot or zit is another name for a pimple. As mentioned, small lesions that develop on the skin and might even feel inflamed or painful, are known as pimples, a type of acne, and look quite similar to the early stages of a cold sore when they appear around the lips. The cause of pimples is a bacterial infection or excess oil in the facial oil glands, which inflame the glands and as a result they get filled with pus.

Identifying the symptoms of pimples is one way people can determine which they are actually suffering from. One of the best ways people can telling the difference, is to recall if there was any forewarning sign before the lesion occurred.

In the case of spots, these pus-filled bumps can occur simply out of the blue. Pimples can be present anywhere on the body and usually are more likely on the T zone of the face and are associated with oily skin as well as acne prone skin.

What is a Cold Sore?

cold sore

Cold Sore on Lip

Those trying to figure out if they really have a cold sore or whether it is just a pimple after all, should know that these are a manifestation of a viral skin condition that occurs because of the herpes simplex virus type-1 infection. Due to being similar to zits when they first appear, i.e. existing in the form red lesions, there is often confusion about this. While pimples are not infectious and cannot be passed from one individual to another, the the herpes simplex virus can be passed from one person to the other from oral contact. This can be from a kiss, or the use of infected personal items like a towel or a utensil. The image on the left is from the NHS website in the UK, which has some very helpful information about cold sores

The signs and symptoms that are experienced before a cold sore appears are often the best way of telling the difference as people will feel a burning and tingling feeling, which might even be painful. Other tell-tale signs are painful, spontaneous rupturing and the fact that these sores mostly occur on or around the lips.

Treatments are widely available and can vary from a machine that will zap the cold sore to simple creams or gels to apply.

How to Treat a Cold Sore vs Pimple

pimple on lipOne people have determined which they have, they can begin treating it accordingly. Cold sores might not go away on their own therefore medications need to be used to treat the condition, while zits generally vanish on their own. Treating zits can normally be done without any medical help and there are many creams, drying products, vitamin supplements and natural remedies that can be used to treat them. Find out more about treating a pimples on lips in this article.

As similar as these two types of blemish might be in appearance, there are still a lot of differences between these two skin conditions. The only way to treat either of them is to find out what the lesion actually is. While spots can be a nuisance, cold sores on the other hand can turn painfully severe in certain cases and visiting the doctor might become necessary to relieve pain and reduce the symptoms. Therefore, to treat either, people need to be certain which skin condition they are suffering from.

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