Canker sores are painful sores that appear inside of the mouth. They are most often red in color and may appear with a white skin lining over the sore. Canker sores are most often found inside of the lips, cheeks, at the base of the gums, or on the underside of the tongue. Most often confused with a fever blister, a canker sore appears inside of the mouth while fever blisters tend to appear on the outside of the lips
Canker sores can appear at any age, but are most often found in women and young adults between their teenage years and their 20s. The genetic tendency for a canker sore is prevalent and may run in families. The canker sore is not contagious and will not spread through contact or kissing.
Causes of Cankers
There are no known causes for the canker sore. But, it is known that women who are going through their menstrual cycle tend to be more apt to contract a sore during the cycle. Stress, poor nutrition habits and allergies to foods may also cause canker sores.
Symptoms of a Canker Sore
Canker sore will appear slowly. The area of the sore may appear slightly red at first with the physical sore appearing over a period of days. Pain and tenderness at the area of the sore are the most common symptoms.
Most often, canker sores will appear out of nowhere and fade away without medicinal treatment. Pain, the most common symptom of a canker sore, can be treated with over the counter pain medications. Before eating, a numbing medication such as the ones used in the teething process may be applied directly to the site of the sore to prevent irritation during the meal. Other irritations may occur with teeth brushing and drinking.
The most common alternative treatment for the canker sore are zinc lozenges, Vitamin C and Vitamin B Complex. A chamomile tea and sage mixture can also be used as a mouthwash to aid in the healing process.
When is Medicinal Treatment Necessary?
In very rare cases, the canker core may last for more than 2 weeks and cause pain to the point that eating and drinking are impossible. If the canker sore progresses to this level, a doctor may need to be called to prescribe a more aggressive treatment.
The two most common prescription medications used for the treatment of canker sores are anti-inflammatory medications and collagenase medications. Many prescription medications will be of the “swish and swallow” or “swish and spit” varieties.