According to Cold Sore Cures and Treatments, pimples and cold sores are different in both their appearances and their symptoms. Pimples tend to be red in color with white heads. Pimples can appear everywhere that hair follicles are present, but they cannot appear on the lip as cold sores can. Pimples are sometimes painful, but they generally do not cause the same level of physical discomfort that cold sores do.
Cold sores are blister-like sores, that often crack and ooze before healing within one to two weeks of emergence. In the days before developing a cold sore, the area can feel tender, sore, tingly or itchy. This tingly and itchy sensation is the clearest sign that the bump is a cold sore and not a pimple.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes-simplex virus, and therefore are very contagious. They must not be touched, because physical contact can spread the virus from one area of the body to other areas, such as the genitals and eyes. A wide range of over-the-counter remedies to heal cold sores are available at supermarkets, drug stores and pharmacies. Prescription medications are also available for individuals who suffer from chronic acne and its associated symptoms.