Recurrent Mouth Ulcers
They are painful, round mouth sores. They show up in several places:
- On the inside of the lips
- Inside the cheeks
- On the tongue
- At the base of the gums
- On the roof of the mouth (palate)
It often runs in families. You may have only one mouth ulcer at a time, or many of them all at once. Most people get one, two or three sores at a time. But some people have 10 or more at a time. People who get mouth ulcers typically have them a few times each year. Mouth ulcers are not contagious.
Emotional stress, menstruation or injury to the mouth are common triggers for simple mouth ulcers. Certain foods such as citrus or acidic foods may trigger a canker sore or make one more uncomfortable.
Other conditions cause similar sores:
- Blood and immune system diseases, including HIV
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Crohn’s disease
Mouth ulcers are often confused with cold sores. Cold sores are caused by a virus.
About half of the population get mouth ulcers. Smaller mouth ulcers usually heal within a couple of weeks and do not leave scars. For most people, they are just annoying. But some people get larger mouth ulcers (almost one-half inch across or larger). These take longer to heal. They can be painful, and may leave scars. These sores may be so uncomfortable that it is sometimes hard to eat or speak.
You may feel a burning or tingling on your inner cheek, lip or tongue before a sore starts. Each sore takes two to three days to form. The sores are round and shallow.
Mouth ulcers are painful for 3 to 10 days. Most go away after 2 weeks.
There is no way to prevent mouth ulcers.
Only the symptoms of mouth ulcers can be treated. Treatment is meant to make you feel better until the sores heal. Treatment cannot stop you from having mouth ulcers again. To reduce discomfort, you can:
- Eat bland foods
- Rinse with warm water
- Use pain-relieving gels or creams on the sores
People with larger or very painful sores may need steroid medicines. These are gels or creams that are placed on the sores. They make the sores heal faster. They also keep the sores from growing.
Other possible treatments include injected steroids. There are also a few medicines you can take by mouth, but this is for the most serious cases.
Most mouth ulcers clear up without treatment and do not leave scars. In more severe cases, medicines often help to speed up healing.