Acne vs Cold Sores: Difference, Prevention, and Treatment

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Generally, acne and cold sores are perceived to be the same thing. However, these are the names of two different skin problems. Although, both these skin problems share some common symptoms, but regarding the causes and the treatment, they have absolutely no similarity at all. So in order to cure them properly, it is first imperative to distinguish whether you are suffering from acne or cold sores. Keep reading if you want to know the difference;

Acne vs Cold Sores

The comparison will be in four aspects as follow;

Acne vs Cold Sores; Symptoms;

With a little knowledge, you can easily distinguish between acne and cold sores. Cold sores show themselves in the form of blisters without any puss. They appear in the form of small fluid filled bumps and are mostly seen as a cluster on the affected area of skin. They are characterized by pain even 2 to 3 days before the blisters appear and when they get fully developed they can be even more painful.

Opposed to that, bumps appearing due to acne (generally called the pimples) are significantly larger in size and are filled with puss unlike cold sores. This is one of the most important distinguishing characters between acne and cold sores. While, the word acne mostly creates an image of pimples in our mind, it need not be necessarily restricted to the pimples, but can also appear in the form of other raised bumps on the skin e.g. blackheads and white heads.

Acne vs Cold Sores; Site of Occurrence;

While the cold sores appear around the lips or even right on the lips in the form of clusters, acne can mostly be seen in the form of pimples on cheeks, forehead, nose or anywhere else on the face. People may also suffer from back acne. Unlike cold sores, acne rarely appears around mouth.

Acne vs Cold Sores; Causes;

One of the most important distinguishing features between acne and cold sores is the causes of the two skin problems. Cold sores are caused by Type 1 Herpes Simplex Virus. Whereas, reason behind acne is a combination of several factors which follow each other in a sequence. It is caused by the excessive production of sebum, leading to obstructed skin pores, and these blocked pores in turn provide breeding ground for bacteria. In case you don’t know what sebum is and how it is produced, it is an oily secretion produced by sebaceous glands which are located right under the skin. These glands are more concentrated in the facial and back area.

So the causing agent of cold sores is a virus, whereas, acne is caused by bacterial growth in skin pores blocked by sebum. Sebum production mostly increases during pregnancy and during adolescence due to a natural process of hormonal changes. This excessive production of sebum can be seen in the form of pimples on the skin.

Acne vs Cold Sores; Treatment;

Since both the skin problems under consideration are caused by two different agents, the treatment from them would also be different. Many of you would be wondering, is there a proper cure for cold sores? Although, the topical anesthetic agents like lidocaine can cause cold sores to die for time being, thus freeing you from the pain, however that effect would not last long. Since it is a viral infection, it needs to be treated by the use of oral antivirals e.g. acyclovir and famiciclovir. These antivirals would cause the cold sores to heal gradually.

Acne is treated with such skin ointments which contain ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Such ointments have dual effects; on one hand they shed the dead skin cells and on the other hand, they wash away the accumulated sebum oil from the blocked pores. So the skin pores are unblocked once again, thus ridding you from acne. However, sometimes, these ointments are not enough and you would need other medications like Retin A which is derived from vitamin A and/or oral antibiotics to permanently kill bacteria that cause acne.

However, an interesting fact about acne and cold sore is that in many cases, they simply get healed themselves without any treatment. Instead of getting to a point where you need medication for these problems, you should avoid them in first place by taking care of hygiene, improving water intake, and staying active. This would reduce the chances of acne and cold sores and your skin would stay healthy.

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