Cold Sores vs. Pimples : What's the Difference?

Cold Sores vs. Pimples: What's the Difference?

What are cold sores?

Cold sores are breakouts that are usually from the herpes simplex virus but can also be from people who have weak immune function.  The herpes virus (there are different types) is a viral infection.  It can be dormant in some people and never affects them at all. 

Some people have the virus and it causes cold sores on their lips and mouth area and it is infectious.  Typically, a cold sore appears as an inflamed and painful medium to larger bump on a lip surface area. 

Reasons someone can develop cold sores:

  • Stress
  • Facial infections (fungal or bacterial, typically)
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Poor food choices
  • Cuts or wounds on the face

How do you treat cold sores?

There are spot treatments for cold sores. Sometimes there are internal medications to address the herpes virus that causes them on the mouth.

Prescription oral and topical medications for cold sores include:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  • Famciclovir
  • Penciclovir (Denavir)
  • Ointment docosanol (Abreva)
  • Acyclovir cream (Zovirax)
  • Different prescription strength forms of Salicylic acid

Possible treatment options OTC to prevent and treat cold sores:

  • Allantoin, camphor, and phenol topical (treatment ointments for cold sores)
  • Salicylic acid (in creams, gels, bar and liquid face washes)
  • Spot treatments that have drying agents (like alcohol)
  • Castor oil (used as a topical)
  • Vitamin E (orally or oil used topically)
  • Zinc oxide cream (reduce inflammation and improves skin disturbances)
  • Iron (red blood cell production, reduces inflammation, internally and externally, helps blood to heal areas faster)
  • Cold compress to reduce swelling or redness
  • Warm compress can reduce pain
  • OTC pain relievers (many times cold sores are very painful and they can affect your eating; you might also refrain from talking as much due to your lips or mouth hurting)
  • Quercetin (improve inflammation in body and on skin)
  • Turmeric or Curcumin (great for reducing inflammation in the body, improving gut health and skin health)
  • Creams containing lidocaine or benzocaine (can reduce pain)
  • Lysine (amino acid used as a cream or oral supplement; to improve immune health for those who have herpes virus causing cold sores; also reduces inflammation)
  • Rhubarb (in salves)
  • Sage (can be helpful in a cream or ointment)
  • Echinacea (usually mixed in salves with beeswax and other drawing agents)
  • Golden seal (can be used to address herpes; boosts immune system function and helps improve skin health
  • Vitamin C (serum for the face; boosts immune function)
  • Stress reduction is essential (exercise, mediation, taking immune system boosters and stress reduction herbs such as: Ashwagandha or lemon balm)
  • Propolis (Synthetic beeswax)  Drying creams, usually skin tone colors

What are pimples?

They are a short-term breakout and are usually easily treatable. They are pores on your face or anywhere on the skin and body that are clogged from too much oil, or sebum.  Everyone has this production on their face.  Some folks have very oily skin and are simply, more prone to pimples and acne.  Most of the time during puberty, due to hormonal changes in men and women, pimples can form on the skin.  As you age, most folks don’t have pimples that much but they can still happen.

How can you prevent and treat pimples?

  • Most common OTC product for pimples: Clean & Clear advantage spot treatment with witch hazel
  • You can try to use Q-tips or other fine stainless steel tools to clean out the whitehead area (only attempt this if you can tell the whitehead is mostly to the surface)
  • Castor oil on affected area
  • Drying agent like Retin-A or Trenointin cream (high for of Vitamin A; generic of Retin-A cream—this is prescription only)
  • Use a face wash with alcohol
  • Alcohol and salicylic acid Stridex pads or clean and clear wipes\
  • Noxzema pads and facial creams; usually used at night
  • Alcohol facial wipes
  • Witch Hazel
  • Clearasil, Differin, CeraVe, Cetaphil, Biore, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena—are common skin care brands around the world you can purchase OTC for prevention of skin conditions like blackheads, pimples, acne and more.

Our PurClarity Revitalizing Mist can improve skin health 

You can purchase our PurClarity Revitalizing Mist spray bottle that contains HOCL can help treat or even prevent future pimples or cold sores from starting.  This is not to say you should skip washing your face daily or not take a dermatologists advice on a prescription that could help you as well.  Our solution is a great way to prevent and assist in these pesky breakouts and it’s for all skin types and is non-toxic which keeps your mind at ease when using a new skin care product.

What is the difference between cold sores and pimples?

While they both can happen from stress—usually cold sores are because of the herpes simplex virus.  However they can happen if you have other viral or bacterial infections.  They are usually around the mouth. 

Pimples are usually due to stress but actually can develop from make-up, various harsher skin care products and they are when sebum or another product clogs a pore and produces a bump that contains a whitehead.  This is usually just pus or wax-like substance that is just under the surface of the skin. Typically this is hormonal.

Supplements to help prevent breakouts and improve immune health and skin health:

  • Vitamin A (skin and immune system health)
  • B complex (hair, skin and nail and nervous system health; be is needed for a variety of other organ functions such as the heart and for diabetes damage)
  • Vitamin C (for immune health, and can fight infection and inflammation in the body; so powerful it can fight cancer and be used in treatment plans in tertiary hospitals and cancer centers around the US; can rid of chronic infection when antibiotics have failed)
  • Vitamin D (skin, immune system health)
  • Vitamin E (immune system and skin health)
  • Magnesium and Potassium
  • Quercetin (one of the best anti-inflammatories)
  • Iron and Zinc (help address skin issues, immune health and inflammatory conditions internally and externally on your skin)
  • Echinacea (some autoimmune conditions aren’t helped by this herb, for the most part it is safe and effective for the majority of people)
  • Castor oil (can leave on face at night, lowers in inflammation and can help fight infection)
  • Turmeric or Curcumin (lowers inflammation in the body)

Eating healthier and exercising can also improve skin health

Taking a variety of supplements for immune health and lower inflammation and reasons to develop an infection helps you immensely.  But, you should also consume lots of fruits and vegetables.  Talk to a dietitian if you have certain medical conditions that you are worried about –to see what diet plan might be best for your pimples, cold sores and other breakouts without causing a problem with other health conditions you may have.

If you consume more leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, green beans, cabbage and others) you are already on the right road to better health.  You can easily reduce stress by consuming higher vitamin and mineral foods and with more vegetables and certain fruits like blueberries and grapes—you can increase the amount of quercetin which is a huge bioflavonoids that can help folks who have allergies and are more prone to breakouts. Certain spices such as saffron, turmeric or cumin can also be great ways to lower inflammation, if you appreciate their flavor. 

Not everyone can handle these spices. Saffron can be wonderful on basmati rice and is usually found in Middle Eastern food selections.  Many times chicken in various cultures is marinated in saffron, and sometimes turmeric and cumin for curry dishes—like in India. 

All of these dishes are all great for improving digestive and immune system function, skin health and helping to improve inflammatory levels.  Your doctor can check the C-reactive protein as a baseline for general inflammation in the body.

Improving exercise routine in your life

If you don’t have a workout regimen, you should.  It can improve your brain health, improve motility so digestion is better and can help improve your overall mental state and help you acquire a better night’s rest.  These are all essential to have healthier skin and prevent break outs from starting.

While some breakouts can be due to hormonal imbalance or when someone hits puberty other issues can develop faster from severe stress—like cold sores. Walking several miles a week can help you lose weight and improve and reduce any kind of stress that can lead to having a variety of breakouts.

Lower chances of developing pimples and cold sores

Skin health can be accomplished, but it takes a bit of work on your part—you might need the help of a gastroenterologist if you have more severe skin issues.  They can stem from GI issues but sometimes they are from other health conditions or simply, stress.

Talk to your primary care doctor or a dermatologist and better understand how to get control over too many pimple outbreaks or cold sores.  You just may need something non-OTC to help you. If you haven’t been tested and have started getting cold sores, you should get blood work to address herpes simplex that can develop cold sores.  You might also need certain hormones checked so you can address the balancing of these.  Many times prescription ointment and creams are all you need for both of these skin conditions.

Also, try our non-invasive skin care product, PurClarity Revitalization Mist.