A Cold Sore or a Pimple on the Lip: How to Tell the Difference

difference between a cold sore and a pimple

Is it a cold sore or a pimple? They look the same, right? Here are the ways to tell the difference between a cold sore and a pimple.

Cold Sore Basics

Also called fever blisters, cold sores form in a cluster usually at the edge of the bottom lip. They are tiny fluid-filled blisters. You may feel itching, burning, or tingling in the area prior to the blisters appearing. When the blisters pop, they will form a crust and eventually go away after about two to four weeks.

Cold sores are usually the result of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and are highly contagious. They can go away on their own, or you can take medications for them. Both pills and topical medications can help shorten the outbreak duration.

Pimple Basics

Pimples, on the other hand, are caused by hair follicles getting clogged with dead skin cells or sebum (oil). It is a small red bump and is often tender. They can have a black tip, white tip, or sometimes no tip at all. Pimples can form anywhere on your body, including the edges of your lips.

You can treat mild to moderate acne at home with over-the-counter creams, soaps, and good hygiene habits.

The Difference Between the Two

You can tell the difference between the two with how they feel and form. There are some other ways to tell them apart as well.

Pimples can show up anywhere on your face and lips, but a cold sore will appear in one area of the upper or lower lip every time. Although a pimple may be painful to touch, a cold sore may also tingle, burn, or itch. And lastly, pimples have a single visible blackhead or whitehead. Cold sores are a cluster of blisters together in the same area.

Final Thoughts

If you have experienced one of these firsthand, you would be able to tell the difference between a cold sore and a pimple. If you suspect that you have a cold sore, talk to your doctor to make sure. And, remember that while the blisters are present you are highly contagious. Take necessary precautions to not further spread the infection.