Skin conditions such as cold sores and acne, that almost everyone suffers from at least once in his or her life, are poles apart and cannot be considered as one and the same.
Quite a few people are under the wrong notion that cold sores and acne are the same. Although both are skin problems and have slightly similar symptoms, there is absolutely no similarity when it comes to causes, appearance and treatment. Following article gives a low-down on cold sores vs acne:
Believe it or not but cold sores and acne are not very difficult to distinguish. A person affected with cold sores typically shows formation of blisters that do not contain any pus. These are small fluid filled bumpy structures that show a cluster formation in the affected area. Apart from pain that occurs 2-3 days before the onset of blisters, these cold sores when fully developed may actually be quite painful. So, one can say that cold sores can be a cause of discomfort but the same cannot be said about acne, although acne pimples might cause mild irritation, which is well tolerable.
Acne bumps are significantly larger than the cold sores. Most importantly, acne lesions referred as pimples contain pus. Therefore unlike cold sores, acne is typically marked by formation of pus filled pimples. However, the term acne is not just restricted to pimples but also refers to other small raised bumps on the skin like whiteheads and blackheads.
Site of Occurrence
Cold sores that appear in clusters are normally seen around the lips. These fluid filled fever blisters can also occur right on the lips. In case of acne, the pimples appear anywhere on the facial area. However, usually acne pimples appear on the cheeks, forehead and the nose. Many people also suffer from back acne, Rarely, acne sufferers show pimples around the mouth.
The most important difference between these two skin problems is, of course, that of the underlying cause. Body acne causes and that of cold sores are totally different. Type 1 herpes simplex virus is responsible for causing cold sores.
Whereas acne is the result of multiple factors that include excessive production of sebum followed by clogging of skin pores and subsequent bacterial overgrowth in the blocked pores. The sebaceous glands that are present just below the skin and which are more concentrated in the facial and the back area, release an oily substance referred to as sebum. Basically, the sebum has moisture retaining properties, which help to prevent dryness in skin. However, when the body produces too much sebum, it blocks the pores, leading to acne.
Thus, one can say that cold sores is the result of viral infection but, acne occurs as a consequence of bacteria thriving in the skin pores. Hormonal changes that occur in adolescence and during pregnancy also leads to rise in sebum production. With excess sebum being produced, the superficial layer of the skin soon develops pimples.
As the underlying cause of both the skin problems is different, it is obvious that the treatments for cold sores and acne differs. Is it possible to get rid of cold sores? Use of topical anesthetic agents like lidocaine temporarily provides numbing effect, thereby helping to alleviate pain associated with cold sores. Severe cases of acne may require use of oral antibiotics. Because cold sores have been categorized as a viral infection, best treatment for cold sores may involve use of oral antivirals such as acyclovir and famciclovir to facilitate the healing of cold sores.
Are they Contagious?
Acne is not contagious, which means, it cannot spread from an infected skin to a healthy skin. However, cold sores infection can easily transmit to healthy individuals. This is possible through direct skin contact with infected individuals. For instance, having oral sex with infected partners lays the foundation for the virus to relocate to another host. The transmitted virus in many cases has affected the genital areas.
Skin disorders such as acne are treated with over-the-counter topical ointments that have constituents like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These chemical based ointments stimulate shedding of dead skin cells as well as do an excellent job of removing sebum oil that has accumulated in the pores. Thus, these topical creams unclog the pores, thereby helping to get rid of acne. However, moderate to severe forms of acne may require prescription medications like Retin A (derived from vitamin A) and oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria to clear the skin.
It is interesting to note that, many times, both, acne and cold sores get cured without any medical treatment. Healthy lifestyle modifications like drinking adequate water, following a healthy diet and remaining active often works to restore healthy skin.
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