Cold Sore Vs. Pimple: How To Tell The Difference

Waking up in the morning can be rough, but waking up and seeing a brand new pimple pop up on your face makes mornings even rougher. Waking up to a pimple can be a total bust, as not many of us want to walk around with a fresh, red bump on our face all day. And when they're dead center on your face, like on your lips, it can be super irritating and inconvenient. 

While many people opt to try and pop pimples or even try to use pimple medication as soon as they see them appear, you may be too quick to be spot treating something that may not even be a pimple at all. There are different types of bumps and spots that can pop up on your face, like a cold sore, that can be easily confused for a pimple. 

Cold sores are also known as fever blisters and they happen to appear around your lips and your mouth, looking very much like small pimples (via Mayo Clinic). However, it's important to know which you have in order to treat it right. 

Pimples and cold sores require different treatments

Cold sores and pimples can be easily confused because they look rather similar. Pimples can appear anywhere on your face, while cold sores predominately appear near your mouth in clusters. While they may look similar, cold sores and pimples are vastly different in how they grow, appear, and should be treated (via MindBodyGreen). 

Cold sores are fever blisters that are highly contagious and come from the herpes family. They're usually spread through kissing and even sexual intercourse. Cold sores come in clusters sometimes, and appear near the mouth and lips. While they may appear to look like pimples at first, they are actually fluid-filled blisters that shouldn't be popped. Instead, you can use over-the-counter medication like Abreva to help treat them and calm them down. When treated properly, cold sores clear up within two to three weeks. 

Pimples, on the other hand, can appear anywhere on the face and happen when bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil become trapped inside the hair follicle. Pimples appear as either whiteheads or blackheads and can be popped to get rid of the pus inside. However, they should not be picked nor scratched, in order to avoid a scar. Additionally, pimple medication can include salicylic acid which can work for pimples, but definitely not for cold sores. 

While both cold sores and pimples appear similar at first, they have different causes and require different treatment plans, so it's best to know immediately which you have.