Canker Sores – Treatment, Causes, Symptoms and Remedies

What are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are very painful and small ulcers on the inside of the mouth, tongue, throat or lips. It is also known as the aphthous ulcer. Canker sores usually occur in yellow, white or gray color with a red border and are not contagious. In most of the cases it goes away on its own and doesn’t require any treatment, but if the problem persists longer consult your doctor immediately. Canker sores are a very common type of lesions. It is more common in women as compared to men.

canker sores treatment, causes and symptoms

Few symptoms of canker sores include painful gums, difficulty in eating/speaking, bleeding gums, etc. Canker sores appear because of so many different causes such as hormonal changes, food sensitivity/allergy, certain health conditions, viral infection, heredity factors, physical trauma, too much stress, acidic foods, spicy foods, nutritional deficiency, excessive smoking, weak immune system, certain medications, etc. Few preventive tips are very useful in canker sores such as reduce stress, quit smoking, avoid acidic foods, avoid spicy foods, follow good oral hygiene habits, etc

Certain home remedies are used for the treatment of canker sores such as garlic, honey, turmeric, aloe vera, etc. If these home remedies don’t work few treatments such as mouthwash, oral medications, topical treatments, etc. are available.

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. Prevention
  4. Home Remedies
  5. Treatment Options
  6. Patients Queries
  7. Reference


  • Painful gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Lump/mass on gums
  • Difficulty in speaking, eating and swallowing
  • Burning/tingling sensation before sores appear
  • Often fading to gray over time
  • Affects the gums and back part of mouth
  • Typically persists for 1-2 weeks
  • Sores are white, gray, or yellow in color, with a red border

Few rare symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sluggishness

canker sores causes and symptoms


  • Food sensitivity/allergy
  • Hormonal changes
  • Weak immune system
  • Anemia
  • Viral infections
  • Too much Stress
  • Physical trauma
  • Heredity factors
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Allergy to certain bacteria in mouth
  • Toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Acidic foods
  • Excessive Smoking
  • Certain health conditions
  • Certain Medications


  • Avoid spicy, acidic or hot foods and drinks from your diet.
  • Avoid foods that stick in the mouth
  • Choose healthy foods
  • Reduce stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Follow good oral hygiene habits
  • Use toothbrush with soft bristles and brush your teeth gently
  • Protect your mouth

canker sores in children

Home Remedies

1. Honey

Honey has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It speeds up the wound healing process and also reduces swelling and inflammation.

  • Apply 1 tsp of honey directly on the affected area. It will help to reduce inflammation and pain. Do this twice or thrice daily.
  • Another option is to add 1/4th tsp of turmeric powder and 1 tsp of honey to make a fine paste. Apply it on the affected area and leave it there for few minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat it twice daily for few days.

2. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It speeds up the healing process and also reduces inflammation and pain. It is very effective home remedy used to treat canker sores.

  • Extract fresh aloe vera gel from the leaf. Apply it directly to the canker sores. Do this once daily for few days.
  • Another option is to rinse your mouth using aloe vera juice. Do this twice or thrice daily for few days.

3. Garlic

Garlic has antimicrobial properties which are used to treat the infection and reduces the pain of canker sores. A component named allicin is found in garlic which is mainly responsible to treat infections.

  • Try eating 1 clove of raw garlic daily for few days; this will help to reduce infection. Do this daily for few days to see the effect.
  • Another option is to cut the garlic clove and rub it gently over sores. For 1-2 minute. Rinse your mouth with normal water after few minutes.

remedies for canker sores

4. Turmeric

Turmeric has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is very helpful to provide quick relief from canker sores. It is also well-known antiseptic used to treat infections.

  • Mix 2 tsp of turmeric powder and 1 tsp of water to make a thick paste. Apply it on the canker sore and leave it there for 2-3 minutes. Rinse it off with normal water. Do this twice daily until sore heals.

Treatment Options

Treatment of canker sores depends upon its causes such as hormonal changes, weak immune system, food sensitivity, physical trauma, anemia, too much stress, etc. In most of the cases, minor canker sores clear up on its own within 1-2 weeks and don’t require any treatment. But if it persists longer or is painful, it requires proper medical care. Various Home remedies are available for the treatment of canker sores such as honey, garlic, aloe vera, coconut oil, turmeric, Epsom salt, etc.

Medication for Canker Sores

Topical Products: Topical products such as gels, creams or liquids are used to relieve pain, prevent infection and decrease inflammation. It includes Hydrogen peroxide (Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse, Peroxyl), Benzocaine (Anbesol, Kank-A, Orabase, Orajel, Zilactin-B), Fluocinonide (Lidex, Vanos) and others.

Mouthwash: Several types of mouthwash are available to treat symptoms of canker sores. It includes anti-inflammatory steroid mouth rinse, tetracycline antibiotic rinse, diphenhydramine suspension (Benadryl allergy liquid) and others.

Oral medications: Oral medications are also used to relieve the symptoms of canker sores. It is usually prescribed when topical treatments don’t work. It includes over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and others.

Nutritional Supplements: In few cases of canker sores, doctors even prescribe few nutritional supplements to relieve its symptoms. It includes vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, folate (folic acid), zinc lozenges, etc.

Patients Queries

When to see a Doctor?

Consult your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Larger than usual sore
  • Spreading
  • High fever along with sores
  • Extreme difficulty in eating or swallowing
  • Pain that you can’t bear
  • Canker sore persist longer than usual
  • Recurring sores
  • Get worse
  • Canker sores accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, headache, etc.

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