Call your doctor if you are concerned about any of the following:
Canker sores are diagnosed by their typical appearance. No testing is needed in
the majority of cases.
The doctor, however, must consider the possibility of herpes or fungal
infections, trauma, or sores that will not heal that could signal
oral lesions of hand-foot-and-mouth
can appear similar to canker sores.
Canker sores may be seen in people with
infection, with inflammatory and other bowel diseases, and with certain medical
Herpetiform aphthous ulcers may be distinguished from true herpes sores by the
fact that with the herpetiform canker sores, no vesicles (small blisters) appear
before the ulcers do.
Try rinsing your mouth with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt dissolved in 8 ounces
Another mixture that may be helpful consists of 1-2 tablespoons of Maalox mixed
with ½ tablespoon of liquid diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Swish a teaspoonful in
your mouth and spit it out. This can be done four times a day.
A number of
are available over the counter, for example, calamine (Calamox) lotion.
Liquids or ointments with a numbing ingredient such as benzocaine (Anbesol,
Oragel, Orabase, Zilactin-B, Tanac) help relieve the discomfort of canker sores.
Avoid anything that could cause trauma—even minor trauma—to the mouth, such as
hard toothbrushes and rough foods.
Avoid toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate if you tend to get canker
Do not talk while chewing.
Have any irregular dental surfaces repaired.
Hormonal factors can sometimes trigger an outbreak during the premenstrual
phase. Oral contraceptives may be helpful in this regard.
If you have a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12, make sure you are
taking the appropriate supplements.
Most people are minimally inconvenienced by canker sores, because attacks
usually are infrequent and last only a matter of days.
The more severe form, however, tends to last longer.
As you age, canker sores may not return.
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