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Canker Sore Info. Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Cure.

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What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker Sores. Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Cure.

Canker sores are shallow, painful ulcers that appear in or around the mouth. They may occur on your tongue, on your soft palate, the inside linings of your cheeks, lips or throat, often causing discomfort and difficulty when eating. They are usually red or sometimes have a white coating over them.

Anyone can get canker sores and they can occur at any age. Typically women in their teens and 20s get them more frequently. Often, treatment isn’t necessary because they go away on their own.

How Long Do Canker Sore Last?

Usually the pain subsides within a few days and the sores heal within one to three weeks.

Cold Sore Vs. Canker Sore

Canker sores differ from fever blisters and cold sores in that they occur in the soft tissue of your mouth and aren’t contagious. Cold sores rarely develop in the soft tissue of your mouth and are extremely contagious because they are caused by the herpes virus. They also tend to appear on the outside of your lips or the corners of your mouth, instead of inside the mouth.

Are Canker Sore Contagious?

Although canker sores may run in families, they are not contagious. 

What Causes Canker Sores?

The causes of canker sores are unknown. Scientists generally believe that stress or tissue injury may cause the eruption of the sores. A minor injury, such as biting the inside of your mouth, can trigger outbreaks of canker sores, but these factors do not cause the disorder. Canker sores do not appear to be caused by viruses or bacteria, although in some people an allergy to a type of bacterium commonly found in the mouth may trigger them.

Other common causes may include:

  • Faulty immune system
  • Nutritional deficiency of vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid or iron
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Food allergies
  • Menstrual periods
  • Emotional stress

Signs and Symptoms of Canker Sores May Include:

  • Painful, red spots that can be up to 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) across, although most of the time they appear much smaller.
  • Appear on the inside of your mouth – on your tongue, soft palate, inside of the cheeks or lips, and at the base of your gums
  • Tingling or burning sensation before the sores appear
  • The sores appear to have a white or yellowish coating over it, with a red edge or “halo”.
  • Will usually only have one at a time, but they can also occur in small clusters.
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Lethargic / slightly ill feeling

When to See Your Doctor

Canker sores usually go away without any treatment. Although for a severe canker sore, that is, if your canker sore is large, last longer then 2 weeks, or is so sore that you can’t eat or drink, you should visit your doctor for a canker sore medicine.  Also, see your doctor if you feel sick or have a fever along with canker sores.

Canker Sore Treatment

Normally treatment isn’t necessary and your canker sore will heal by itself within a couple weeks. Your doctor may suggest prescription medication, or prescription mouthwash, a corticosteroid salve or an anesthetic solution if your sores are large, painful, or won’t heal on their own. For pain relief, your doctor might suggest ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Other medicines might keep your canker sores from becoming irritated by eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. They are to be applied right on the sore using a cotton swab, or Q-tip.

How to Prevent Canker Sores

Because canker sores can recur, you may be able to reduce their frequency by avoiding what triggers them, including:

  • Avoid using toothpaste that contains SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and other irritating ingredients.
  • Avoid foods that are hard, crunchy, spicy, or acidic. Anything sharp, like a potato chip or nuts, can poke at the sore and cause irritation.
  • Follow good oral hygiene. It’s important to brush your teeth after meals in order to keep your mouth clean and free of food that might cause a canker sore. Use a soft toothbrush and floss, but be careful to not brush the sore itself, which may make it worse.

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