A cold sore is one or more blisters that appear in or around your mouth. Some people refer to them as fever blisters. No matter what you call them, there’s no denying that blisters are a nuisance. Fortunately, cold sores tend to go away on their own. If you don’t see a blister shrinking or drying up, it could mean it’s something more serious. If this is the case with you, contact Georgetown ENT for an appointment with Dr. Scott Franklin.
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores stem from a viral infection from the herpes simplex I virus or herpes simplex II virus. Cold sores can be contagious and can travel through person-to-person contact. For instance, you may develop a cold sore from kissing someone with one. The biggest sign of a normal cold sore is its life cycle, which should end in two to three weeks. If your cold sore lasts longer than that, it could be something more serious.
Mouth cancer may appear similar to a cold sore around the lips. Unlike cold sores, though, mouth cancer doesn’t heal. Mouth cancer develops due to a mutation in the DNA of cells. This leads abnormal cells to divide and grow. As a result, eventually, sores or lesions in or around the mouth can develop. Mouth cancer can spread to other parts of your head and neck, if it is left untreated. It’s also possible for the cancer to spread to the tongue, cheek lining, roof of the mouth, gums, and under the tongue.
Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
Mouth cancer spots in the mouth may seem similar to that of cold sores, but there is one big difference. Mouth cancer sores will not heal on their own. In fact, the sores will stay the same size or grow larger over time. This is why it’s important to examine cold sores regularly. If the sores do not heal on their own in two weeks, it’s time to see a doctor for an evaluation.
Risk Factors of Mouth Cancer
Some people are more at risk for mouth cancer than others. For instance, if you use tobacco, either chewing tobacco or cigarettes, you have a higher risk of developing mouth cancer. Excessive sun exposure on your lips can also increase your risk, as well as having the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Heavy alcohol usage and being immunocompromised increase your risk, as well. If any of these apply to you, it is important to pay close attention to cold sores.
Determining the Cause of Your Sore
If you have a sore that won’t heal, and it doesn’t appear to have another cause, such as a virus, bacteria, or fungus, your practitioner will carefully inspect the sore. They will also examine the rest of your mouth to check for any discoloration or abnormalities. It is possible that your doctor will want to do a biopsy. This involves taking a sample of tissue from the sore and having it examined in a laboratory. This is an effective way to get a diagnosis.
Choose Our ENT in Georgetown, TX to Identify the Cause of Your Mouth Sore
Dr. Scott Franklin of Georgetown ENT is highly experienced in treating patients with all sorts of health problems related to the ear, nose, throat, and mouth. If you have a cold sore that just won’t heal, we encourage you to make an appointment to see Dr. Franklin as soon as possible.
Book an appointment with Georgetown ENT, serving Georgetown and the neighboring areas, to get prompt and high quality medical care. Call (512) 869-0604, or use our appointment request tool.