cold-sore“I have an important presentation tomorrow. I am nervous. I hope I do well because I am all set. And…….. What’s this? Oh my god…..a sore, red bump suddenly appearing right on my lip…. Is it a cold sore or a pimple?”

Cold sores and pimples are two completely different skin conditions which can start off looking very similar. But they feel very different and change in appearance as they develop.

Cold Sores or Pimples – What are they?

A Cold sore is a viral infection, usually caused by herpes simplex virus. It is very common; almost about 50-80% population have the virus, although it doesn’t always cause breakouts.

Pimples or acne, on the other hand, develop when there are blocked pores on the skin and hormonal changes occur. Bacteria (called ‘propioni acnes’) invade, and a painful bump is formed.

Cold Sore or Pimple – What does it look like?

  1. Cold sores look like a cluster of tiny blisters typically appearing around your mouth and lips, sometimes inside the mouth, nose and chin.
  2. Pimples, in contrast, are red in color and will grow anywhere that hair follicles are present. Hence, they cannot appear directly on the lips. So if you have a bump on the lips, it is most likely a cold sore.

Cold Sore v/s Pimple – How do they develop?

In the days or hours before a cold sore appears, you feel an itchy tingly sensation under the skin where it will eventually break up. This tingly feeling is a clear sign that you have a cold sore and not a pimple.

Eventually, a cold sore will burst, ooze fluid, will scab over, crack and ooze, and slowly heal over in the next 10 days or so.


Pimples or acne begin as a tender spot, or they just appear. You might feel a small tender bump before you actually see a pimple. (Often, a pimple just gives you a surprise; you go to sleep one night and wake up with a big gift on your skin! )

Instead of clusters of blisters, a pimple develops a white head. Most pimples have just one each, but there can be massive bumps that have developed several heads. They don’t look like blisters though.

Cold Sores and Pimples – Do they spread?

The virus that causes cold sores is highly contagious. The virus can be transferred by kissing someone with the cold sore or sharing items like utensils, towels, handkerchiefs and make up.

Acne is not contagious, unlike cold sores. You can hug, kiss, share make up, with someone with pimples, and still never get them.

Do not mess with either though! Avoid trying to pluck out either a pimple or a cold sore. A cold sore can spread to other people, while a pimple, though, not transferrable, can still form a scar if you try to pluck it out.

Treatment for Pimples and Cold Sores

Effective treatment options are available which provide episodic treatment in conventional medicine, meaning they can be effective for that one episode. But pimples and cold sore tend to appear repeatedly. Hence, homoeopathy in such cases is strongly recommended.

At LifeForce, Dr. Rajesh Shah’s research based medicines have treated many such cases of recurrent acne as well as recurrent cold sores very effectively. Like many patients from across the world, if you too would like to benefit from homeopathy for cold sores or acne, do get in touch via the form below. Alternately you could give us a call on +91-22-66888888 or write back to us with images of your cold sores or pimples at

– Dr Roopal Shukla, Associate Doctor to Dr Rajesh Shah, LifeForce Team


  1. thank you for helping me, I was wondering why I couldn’t sleep at night because my chin burned, woke up the following day and I have this weird, spotty thing right under my lip that I’ve never had before, this has helped me alot and everything you’ve said about cold sore is exactly what I’m experiencing, thank you x

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