How to Get Rid of Canker Sores 

If you’re determined to learn how to get rid of canker sores, you’ve got good reason. It’s always a terrible surprise when you take a big bite of something spicy and realize you have a sore in your mouth or brush your teeth and suddenly hit a tender spot that wasn’t there the day before. If the source of your pain is a small white spot on one of the pink surfaces in your mouth, it’s likely you’ve got a canker sore.

Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers that develop in the soft tissues of the mouth.

They can pop up on your cheeks, the base of your gums, and even on your tongue, Erich Voigt, M.D., director of the division of general otolaryngology at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells SELF. “They can happen to anyone,” he says. And they can hurt like hell, causing a stinging pain that intensifies when you eat something acidic or spicy, touch them, or even drink water.

Unlike cold sores (fever blisters), canker sores are not caused by the herpes virus.

If you’re wondering, Are canker sores contagious?, you may be thinking of cold sores, also known as fever blisters, which are caused by the herpes virus. (If you have a lesion in your mouth that’s blistering, has tiny bubbles of clear fluid, or is crusted over, see your doctor. That could be a herpes sore.) Cold sores are contagious, canker sores are not. The cause behind canker sores isn’t really known, though there are a handful of things that may trigger them.

“There can be lots of different triggers, like local trauma, biting the cheek, or a reaction to certain foods,” Dr. Voigt says. Overzealous brushing, harsh mouthwashes, spicy or acidic foods, hormonal changes, and stress can all also contribute to canker sores, according to the Mayo Clinic. So can Coxsackie viruses, or “hand, foot, and mouth disease,” which is common in kids and not normally serious.

Experts believe that when it comes down to it, canker sores are likely the result of autoimmune activity (basically, the body attacking itself). You may just get one randomly because of an immune reaction—maybe your body’s fighting off a virus. Canker sores are also a side effect of some autoimmune conditions like celiac disease, irritable bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, and Behçet’s disease (which causes inflammation in the blood vessels). They are also common in those with HIV/AIDS.

So, how long do canker sores last, and is there any way to speed their healing?

Most cankers sores will get better on their own within a week or two, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, you can’t cure them, but there are various canker sore treatments that may help relieve the pain while you wait.

First up, some intuitive things you can do to make sure you don’t prolong the life of your canker sore: Avoid spicy, acidic, and “sharp” foods (think: tortilla chips) that can further inflame or injure your ulcer, and brush your teeth cautiously.

To manage discomfort, over-the-counter numbing agents and painkillers like Orajel and Kank-A are available. “They can help, but they’re not great,” mostly because they wash off pretty quickly, Dr. Voigt says. Topical steroids and mouth rinses provide better relief, but you’ll need to get a prescription for them. There are even ways to chemically cauterize canker sores (aka, basically burn them so they close up), according to the Mayo Clinic. You should talk to your doctor if you’re interested in this kind of canker sore treatment.

Anecdotally, there are various canker sore treatments that people say they find helpful, but science hasn’t yet backed up. Swishing salt water or a baking soda rinse around in your mouth is one—Dr. Voigt says there’s no hard scientific evidence that these work (or the mechanisms behind why they would), but some people find they help to ease pain and speed up healing. The Mayo Clinic also suggests dabbing milk of magnesia (it’s an antacid, i.e., something that helps to reduce stomach acid) on the sore a few times a day.

Some people apply alum, a pickling agent you can find at grocery stores, to canker sores to speed healing, potentially via a DIY kind of chemical cautery. Unfortunately, this does not rank among doctor recommendations. [Ed note: Following the lead of enthusiastic Amazon commenters, two SELF.com editors have tried this; it burns like a mother, but seems to speed healing. They are not doctors and this is not a medically approved suggestion.]

Lastly, if you’re about to Google “Can you pop a canker sore?” let us save you some trouble (and pain): Since canker sores are shallow wounds, not blisters or pimples, there’s really nothing there to pop, plus it’ll probably really hurt if you try.

If you have a canker sore that lasts longer than two weeks, bleeds, or gets bigger over time, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor.

In rare cases, mouth sores are a sign of something more serious, like oral cancer. In most situations, though, canker sores are nothing to worry about and just a normal nuisance we all have to live through. As long as you remember to avoid hot sauce, you’ll make it through.

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Source Article from https://www.self.com/story/what-are-canker-sores-and-how-to-get-rid-of-them