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Canker sores: The scoop on these painful lesions

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Canker sores: The scoop on these painful lesions

I get a lot of questions from people related to canker sores: What exactly are they? How do I get them? Why? How do I get rid of them? So I thought that I would dedicate some time to these painful lesions that can be pretty irritating and really cramp your style for up to two weeks! They aren't contagious, but they can make eating certain foods, and even talking, very difficult.

What are they?
They are small lesions on the soft tissue in your mouth (gums, cheeks, etc.) and they are usually round or oval with a yellow or white base to them and red around the outside. They tend to tingle or burn for about a day, before you can actually see them,and they usually grow from 1/2in (or 12mm) and can get slightly bigger.  Minor canker sores will heal within two weeks and won't leave any scarring, while larger ones (or major canker sores) can take a maximum of 6 weeks to heal, and may leave scars in your mouth.



Why do I get them?
The bummer is that we don't really know what causes canker sores, but they can be caused by:
A minor injury to the soft tissue (biting your cheek, after dental work)
Acidic foods
Food allergies
Celiac Disease (or gluten allergy)
Behcet's disease- a rare disease that causes inflammation throughout your body, including your mouth
Steven's Johnson's disease- also very rare but it can cause sores inside and out on your body
Stress
Decreased immune system (due to chronic disease or otherwise)

What can I do to make them go away or feel better?
Multivitamins: Can give you vitamin B (which may be missing from your diet), zinc, etc
Topical oral medications: Benzocaine (orobase) can numb the area so you don't feel the sores, there are many over the counter (OTC) options at your local pharmacy/chemist.
Mouthwashes: Your HCP can write you for a a medicated mouthwash with tetracycline in it which can help to heal the sores faster
Oral medications: You can take Tagamet, which is OTC, and a medication created to treat heartburn, can help to shorten healing times of canker sores for some people.

Alternative Treatments:
Mouthwash: either 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2cup of warm water OR equal parts liquid Benadryl and Maalox- then swish and spit to make the symptoms go away.
Cover the sore: with either baking soda or Maalox in the sore twice daily.
Also, try to avoid spicy or acidic foods, be careful when brushing teeth around that area, change your toothbrush when the sores heal, and you can drink cold items or suck on ice to help ease the discomfort from the sore.

So, while it stinks we aren't 100% sure what causes them exactly, we know what you can avoid, to try to prevent them, and some pretty simple at home and OTC treatments.  Before taking any medications, I would talk to your HCP, and if you have canker sores that just won't heal, you really should go see your HCP to see if there is a better treatment.

Yours in Good Health
B

1 Comments:

At December 13, 2011 at 8:11 AM , Anonymous beauty said...

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