Canker Sore – 9 soothing strategies

Overview of canker sore

It may only be the size of a pencil eraser, but a canker sore can be hard to ignore.

You know it’s there and it hurts like crazy, especially whenever you eat or drink something.

Fortunately, a canker sore is usually a fairly short-lived misery, and there are a few things you can do to find temporary relief.

First, however, you need to be able to tell the difference between a canker sore and what is called a cold sore, or fever blister, which is caused by the herpes virus.

A cold sore often begins as several tiny blisters that eventually form one large sore. They appear most often on the lips and face.

In contrast, canker sores usually travel alone. And unlike a sore caused by the herpes virus, a canker sore is not contagious.

A canker sore has a yellow or white-grey center with a well-defined red border.

It generally measures three to five millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).

And is usually located on inside of the lips or cheek or, less commonly, on the tongue.

What causes canker sore?

No one knows for sure what really causes canker sores. But “being run down or tired, or suffering from stress or poor nutrition may contribute.”

You see them in students around finals. They may also occur as a result of a minor injury in the mouth, such as from a slip of the toothbrush or a jab from a taco shell.

Certain foods, such as spicy dishes and citrus fruits, have also taken some of the blame.

About 20 percent of the population seems to get canker sores occasionally, and women are more likely than men to suffer from them.

Some women tend to get canker sore at certain times during their menstrual cycle.

Here’s what you can do for relief. Keep in mind, though, that “a canker sore will last seven days with treatment and around ten days without treatment.”

A canker can take up to two weeks to heal; but if one sticks around longer than that, see your dentist.

1. Get out the styptic pencil

Many barbers have used a styptic pencil to stem bleeding from minor nicks and cuts.

Used on a canker sore, it will numb the nerve ending, temporarily reducing the pain.

2. Make your own remedy

It may sound like a strange combination, but several dentists swear by this homemade remedy.

Mix together an equal amount of Milk of Magnesia or Kaopectate and Benylin or Benadryl.

Benylin and Benadryl contain ingredients that act as mild topical anesthetics and antihistamines (which reduce inflammation).

Milk of Magnesia and Kaopectate both contain ingredients that coat wet tissues, such as those in the mouth.

Apply mixture to the canker sore using a cotton swab. Be careful not to swallow the stuff;

You could end up anesthetizing (numbing) the relax that keeps the windpipe closed when you swallow.

3. Go over-the-counter

Use an over-the-counter product like Orabase with Benzocaine. “It’s like an oral bandage.” “It covers up the surface.”

If you use something that keeps the sore coated, you’ll help prevent a secondary infection. Products with xylocaine, a local anesthetic, can also dull the pain.

4. Take two aspirin.

You can take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to help relieve the pain, especially before meals if the canker sore interferes with eating.

5. Don’t eat hot foods on your canker sore

Stay away from foods that are hot, in terms of temperature and spiciness. They’ll burn and sting tender canker sores.

6. Stop the bad habits

Alcohol and smoking can irritate a canker sore. a little abstinence may prove a lot of relief.

7. Check out your diet

One old wives’ tale blames canker sores on tomatoes. Experts admit some sort of allergic reaction to foods may be to blame.

But others point out that food allergies can cause lesions that resemble canker sore.

If you’re plagued with frequent canker sores, pay attention to your diet and notice whether an outbreak seems to be linked with any particular food.

Likely offender of canker sores are: nut, shellfish, chocolate, and tomatoes.

What do you do if you discover a connection? You guessed it, avoid the offending food.

8. Learn to handle stress

That’s the best advice for prevention canker sores. Try to find some method of relieving or coping with stress.

Examples that you might try include engaging in a hobby, an exercise program, yoga, and also meditation.

When to see your doctor for canker sore

If you are suffering from frequent canker sores, you should talk to your dentist about them.

same goes if you have a canker sore that is an inch in diameter or leaves scars when it heals.

And definitely get to your dentist or physician if you develop a fever; a fever may indicate that the canker sore has become infected (from poor oral hygiene, dirty finger in mouth, or chewing tobacco), in such case you would likely need an antibiotic.

If you’ve got a sore that doesn’t go away or been around indefinitely, see your dentist.

“Don’t think that because it doesn’t hurt, it’s not serious.” While a canker sore hurts and stings, “lesions that are oral cancer rarely cause pain.”

And while a canker sore will usually disappear in seven to ten days, a cancerous lesion will not.

More than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year.

Other conditions can also cause mouth ulcers that resemble canker sores.

These include iron deficiency anemia, pernicious (vitamin B12 deficiency) anemia, folic acid deficiency, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.

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16 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    For some reason I used to get these canker sores as a kid but they somehow slowed down when I hit my teenage years – no idea why?

    I’m wondering if they are more prone to hit kids because of all the ‘bad’ stuff we throw down our throats at a young age – have you heard anything on this before?

    • admin says:

      Well there’s a real possibility that might be more prone to kids because most people develop it while they were a child.

  2. abioye olalekan says:

    Thanjs for sharing this wonderful and insightful article about canker sore.

    I think the major cause of canker sore is poor nutrition. i had an experience with a distant cousin some years back due to poor nutrition, but i need to ask some few questions.

    1. Is canker sore hereditary?

    2. can we take more than two aspirin in order to fasten the cure.

    I await your prompt rrsponse

  3. Joey Alnutt says:

    Great article! As someone who’s suffered many canker sores (who hasn’t ) I find this very helpful. I’ve used the aspirin strategy to soothe my pain, but I’ve never heard of the other methods, I’ll have to try them. I didn’t know stress cold cause canker sores either, how fascinating, I’ve always kind of thought my canker sores have come from me accidentally biting my lip or something like that. 

  4. Kehinde Segun says:

    Informative post.Thank you for taking your time to write this education post. I remember I had the experience of this canker sore. But uneducated me was just eating my local peppery food on it causing me so much discomfort in  my mouth. The irony is that, i never knew what it was called when i had it. But these tips will go a long way any I or anyone closer to me encounter such problem again. Thanks

    • admin says:

      Well my main goal is to “help” as much people as possible and if am going to do that I will have to put out the best information possible.

  5. Ayodeji says:

    Hi Dwayne,

    I have only heard about canker sore but never experienced one. According to reports I heard its annoying and a pain in the butt. Great article you wrote about the nine soothing strategies that can be applied. 

    I sure will share the page to my followers in case the need for it arise. Thanks for the sharing of these strategies, keep up the good works. 

  6. Taetske says:

    Good afternoon Dwayne,

    I remember when I was still a small girl I did suffer from those sores. I do not remember what my Mother used to get rid of them. Growing up I never had it again and perhaps it is related to food, I do not know. Fact is my diet is very different now  compared to the food I used to eat when young. 

    In case I have a gum problem I normally solve it with Aloe Vera and Coconut oil. Both things are helpful in those cases.

    Regards, Taetske

    • admin says:

      Well, as stated in the article, your diet may have something to do with it and since your grown up know and can chose what do eat, so you don’t have the problem again.

  7. Clement says:

    Yeah thank you for this great and in depth post. Canker sore is such a bad thing to deal with, I have experienced it twice while I was in high school and it was such horrible experience, the pains and how bad it hurts. I think stress is responsible for it and one has to find a way to deal with stress. 

    • admin says:

      We would be surprise to know some of the things that “stress” can leads to, so the better we deals with stress, the better it is for all of us.

  8. AbiodunS says:

    Thank for this interesting information about canker sore. My sister once had canker sore and I know how painful and excruciating it feels when eating, especially when she eats hot foods.

    I wonder why the exact cause of canker sore is still unknown. Just like it was stated in this article, it could be due to certain allergies. I really appreciate some of the remedies mentioned here, thank you very much. 

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