A canker sore, or aphthous ulcer, is a mouth ulcer or sore
that’s open and painful. They’re the most common type of mouth ulcer. Some
people notice them on the inside of their lip or cheek. They’re usually white
or yellow and surrounded by red, inflamed soft tissue.
A canker sore can be simple or complex. A simple canker sore reemerges
about three to four times every year. This is a common type in people between
the ages of 10 and 20. A complex
canker sore isn’t as common and develops in people who’ve had it
Neither type of canker sores is contagious, and both usually
heal on their own within one to three weeks, although the pain normally
subsides in seven to 10 days.
Contact your doctor or dentist if you develop:
outbreak of sores
You should also seek medical care if you’re unable to drink
or your canker sore hasn’t healed within three weeks.
What Are the Symptoms of a Canker Sore?
The symptoms of canker sores include:
small, oval-shaped ulcer that’s white or yellow
painful red area in your mouth
tingling sensation in your mouth
In some cases, the following symptoms may also be present:
If a canker sore doesn’t heal on its own
within two weeks, call your doctor. This could be a symptom of mouth cancer.
Are the Causes and Risk Factors?
Your risk for developing canker sores increases if you have
a family history of canker sores. There are various causes of canker sores. In
some cases, the cause can’t be determined. The most common causes include:
vitamin or mineral deficiency
immune system problem
Is a Canker Sore Diagnosed?
Your doctor can often diagnose a canker sore just by looking
at it. Your doctor may order blood tests or take a biopsy of the area if
there’s a severe breakout or if they think you might have:
- a virus
- a vitamin or mineral deficiency
- a hormonal disorder
- a problem with your immune system
- a severe breakout
A cancerous lesion may appear as a canker sore, but it will
not heal without treatment.
Is a Canker Sore Treated?
Canker sores normally heal without treatment. To speed up
the healing process, you should avoid spicy foods. You should also brush and
floss your teeth regularly to keep the area from becoming infected by bacteria.
Pain can be severe at times. You can lessen the discomfort
several ways. For example, you can gargle with
mouthwash or salt water. Although it will feel uncomfortable at first, it will
help reduce pain. You can also use a topical agent such as Orabase to numb the
Your doctor or dentist can prescribe:
- an antimicrobial mouth rinse
- an antibiotic
- a corticosteroid ointment
- a prescription mouthwash
to Prevent Canker Sores
You can prevent the recurrence of canker sores by avoiding
foods that may have previously triggered the outbreak. These often include
spicy, salty, or acidic foods. Also, avoid foods that cause the symptoms of an
allergy, such as an itchy mouth, a swollen tongue, or hives.
If your canker sores pop up due to stress, you can use stress
reduction methods and calming techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation.
Also, practice good oral health and use a soft toothbrush to
avoid irritating your gums and soft tissue. Talk with your doctor to determine
if you have any specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies. They can help design
a suitable diet plan and prescribe individual supplements if you need them.