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Canker Sore: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Uppdaterat: 4 juli 2023


canker sore


Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer that affects many people. These small, shallow ulcers can be quite painful and can make eating and talking uncomfortable. They usually appear on the inside of the lips, cheeks, or under the tongue, and are often round or oval in shape with a white or yellow center and a red border.

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but they are not contagious. They may be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress, hormonal changes, certain foods, and mouth trauma. While canker sores usually go away on their own within a week or two, they can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications to help alleviate pain and speed up the healing process.

If you are experiencing canker sores, it is important to take care of your mouth and avoid irritating the sores further. Simple measures like avoiding spicy or acidic foods, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, and rinsing your mouth with salt water can help soothe the pain and promote healing. With proper care and treatment, most canker sores will heal on their own without complications.

Understanding Canker Sores

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, painful sores that appear inside the mouth, on the tongue, or on the lips. They are not contagious and usually heal on their own within one to two weeks. However, they can be uncomfortable and make eating and talking difficult.

Causes and Symptoms

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but they are believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including stress, injury to the mouth, hormonal changes, and certain foods. They can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

Canker sores usually start as a small, round, or oval sore with a white or yellowish center and a red border. They can be painful and may make it difficult to eat or speak. In some cases, a canker sore may be accompanied by a fever or swollen lymph nodes.

Common Locations

Canker sores can occur anywhere inside the mouth, including the gums, tongue, cheeks, and lips. They are most commonly found on the inside of the lips and cheeks, on the tongue, and at the base of the gums.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing canker sores, including:

  • Injury to the mouth, such as from dental work or biting the tongue or cheek

  • Stress or anxiety

  • Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menstruation

  • Certain foods, such as citrus fruits, spicy foods, and chocolate

  • Underlying medical conditions, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease

It is important to note that canker sores are not the same as cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious.

One common question people have about canker sores is what the white stuff in a canker sore is. The white or yellowish center of a canker sore is made up of dead white blood cells and other debris that accumulate during the healing process.

Treatment for Canker Sores

Canker sores can be quite painful, but they usually heal on their own within two weeks. However, there are some home remedies and medical interventions that can help relieve the pain and speed up the healing process.

Home Remedies

There are several home remedies that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by canker sores:

  • Saltwater rinse: Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Mix one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.

  • Baking soda paste: Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Apply the paste directly to the sore and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing it off with water.

  • Honey: Applying honey directly to the sore can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Manuka honey, in particular, has been shown to have antibacterial properties.

  • Coconut oil: Applying coconut oil to the sore can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties that can help prevent infection.


Prevention and Management

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, can be painful and uncomfortable. While there is no known cure for canker sores, there are several ways to manage and prevent them.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent canker sores from appearing. For example, reducing stress levels can be helpful, as stress is known to trigger canker sores in some people. Getting enough sleep and exercise can also help reduce stress levels.

Another lifestyle change that can help prevent canker sores is to avoid foods that irritate the mouth. Spicy or acidic foods can cause irritation, leading to the development of canker sores. Also, avoid chewing gum or using toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulfate, as this can also irritate the mouth. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient found in many oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. It is a surfactant that creates foam and helps to remove debris and bacteria from the mouth. However, SLS has been associated with potential irritation and can exacerbate symptoms of canker sores.

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, painful ulcers that can form inside the mouth. They can be caused by various factors, including minor injuries, immune system issues, hormonal changes, and certain foods. While the exact cause of canker sores is not fully understood, it is believed that SLS can be a potential irritant that triggers or worsens these sores.

SLS can strip away the protective layer of the oral tissues, leading to increased sensitivity and irritation. This can prolong the healing process and make the canker sores more painful. Therefore, individuals who are prone to developing canker sores may consider avoiding oral care products that contain SLS.

Dietary Considerations

Dietary changes can also be effective in preventing canker sores. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help ensure that the body gets the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system. This can help prevent canker sores from developing.

It is also important to avoid foods that are known to trigger canker sores. These include:

  • Citrus fruits and juices

  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products

  • Chocolate

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Coffee and other caffeinated beverages

In addition to avoiding trigger foods, it may also be helpful to take vitamin supplements. For example, taking a vitamin B12 supplement may help prevent canker sores from developing.


Frequently Asked Questions

How to get rid of a canker sore in 24 hours?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to get rid of a canker sore in 24 hours. However, there are some remedies that may help speed up the healing process and alleviate pain. These include applying a baking soda paste or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water to the sore, using an over-the-counter numbing gel, and avoiding spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the sore.

How long do canker sores last?

Most canker sores go away on their own within one to two weeks. However, larger or more severe sores may take up to six weeks to heal. In some cases, canker sores may recur.

What is the white stuff in a canker sore?

The white stuff in a canker sore is a layer of dead skin cells that has accumulated in the center of the sore. As the sore heals, this layer will slough off, revealing new, healthy skin underneath.

How do you get rid of a canker sore fast?

While there is no guaranteed way to get rid of a canker sore quickly, there are some steps you can take to help speed up the healing process and alleviate pain. These include using an over-the-counter numbing gel, applying a baking soda paste or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water to the sore, and avoiding spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the sore.

Is a canker sore a virus?

No, canker sores are not caused by a virus. Instead, they are small, painful ulcers that develop inside the mouth. The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but they may be triggered by stress, certain foods, or minor injuries to the mouth.

What happens when you have a canker sore?

When you have a canker sore, you may experience pain or discomfort in the affected area. You may also notice a small, round sore with a white or yellow center and a red border. In some cases, canker sores may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever or swollen lymph nodes. However, most canker sores will go away on their own within one to two weeks.


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