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Canker Sore Causes and Treatment

canker sores

Canker sores, those small, painful ulcers that form inside your mouth, can be a real nuisance. If you’ve ever experienced the discomfort of a canker sore, you know how it can interfere with daily activities, making eating, drinking, and even talking a challenge. In this article, we’ll delve into the causes of canker sores and explore effective treatments recommended by leading dermatologists.


Understanding Canker Sore Causes

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are shallow, painful sores that can develop on the soft tissues inside your mouth or at the base of your gums. While their exact cause remains elusive, several factors are known to contribute to their development:


Oral Trauma:

Accidental bites, dental work, or aggressive tooth brushing can cause small injuries that lead to canker sores.

Stress and Hormones

Emotional stress and hormonal changes, especially in women during menstruation, may trigger canker sores.

Food Sensitivities

Certain acidic or spicy foods can irritate the delicate tissues inside the mouth, potentially leading to canker sores in susceptible individuals.

Weakened Immune System

Conditions that compromise the immune system, such as autoimmune disorders or vitamin deficiencies, may increase the likelihood of canker sores.


There is evidence suggesting a genetic predisposition to canker sores, with some individuals more prone to developing them.

Expert Insights on Canker Sore Treatment

When it comes to treating canker sores, seeking advice from a dermatologist is essential. These professionals can offer personalized guidance at Integrated Medical Care Hospital based on the specific triggers and characteristics of your canker sores. Let’s explore some recommended treatments:

Topical Analgesics

Over-the-counter ointments and gels containing ingredients like benzocaine or lidocaine can provide relief by numbing the affected area.

Prescription Medications

Dermatologists may prescribe stronger topical medications or oral medications to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Oral Steroids

In severe cases or when canker sores are linked to autoimmune conditions, dermatologists may recommend a short course of oral steroids to control inflammation.

Nutritional Supplements

Addressing vitamin deficiencies through supplements, especially B vitamins, may help prevent recurrent canker sores.

Oral Rinses

Antimicrobial or steroid-based oral rinses can provide relief and promote healing, reducing the duration of canker sores.

Avoiding Trigger Foods

Dermatologists often advise patients to identify and avoid foods that trigger their canker sores, helping to prevent future outbreaks.

Navigating Recurrent Canker Sores

For individuals experiencing recurrent canker sores, a more proactive approach is necessary. Dermatologists recommend the following strategies:

Stress Management

Incorporating stress-reduction techniques, such as mindfulness or yoga, can help minimize triggers associated with emotional stress.

Dietary Modifications

Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding known trigger foods can contribute to overall oral health.

Oral Hygiene Practices

Maintaining good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing can reduce the risk of canker sores associated with oral trauma.

Regular Dental Check-ups:

Visiting your dentist for regular check-ups is crucial. They can identify and address any dental issues that may contribute to canker sores.

Prescription Preventive Medications

In cases of persistent canker sores, dermatologists may prescribe preventive medications to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks.


Dealing with canker sores can be frustrating, but understanding their causes and seeking guidance from a dermatologist can make a significant difference. Whether it’s managing the current outbreak or adopting preventive measures, a dermatologist can provide personalized care tailored to your specific needs.



How long do canker sores typically last?

The duration of canker sores varies, but they often resolve within one to two weeks. Seeking treatment can help alleviate symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Are canker sores contagious?

No, canker sores are not contagious. They are different from cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Can stress really cause canker sores?

Yes, stress is considered one of the factors that can trigger canker sores in susceptible individuals. Managing stress through relaxation techniques may help prevent outbreaks.

Can I use over-the-counter numbing gels for canker sore pain?

Yes, over-the-counter analgesic gels containing ingredients like benzocaine can provide temporary relief from canker sore pain. However, it’s advisable to consult with a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.

Should I be concerned if my canker sores persist or worsen?

If canker sores persist for more than two weeks, worsen over time, or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult a dermatologist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment.

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