Frequently Asked Questions About Canker Sores
Q: What does a canker sore look like?
A: Canker sores appear as small and shallow wounds either on the soft tissues inside your mouth or at the base of your gums.1 They are oval or round, have a white or yellow center and are surrounded by a red border.2 They are usually as big as a corn kernel,3 although some sores could be bigger, depending on the type of canker sore that you have.
Q: Where do canker sores come from and why do you get them?
A: Canker sores do not appear out of nowhere, and there are many reasons why they appear in your mouth. People get canker sores because of environmental, emotional or dietary factors, or even due to certain diseases.
Q: Why are canker sores white?
A: According to the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” fluids, bacteria and white blood cells4 that the sore becomes exposed to eventually mix together and form a whitish or yellowish film that covers the lesion.
Q: Do canker sores bleed?
A: Yes. Canker sores may bleed easily, especially when a person brushes his or her teeth5 vigorously. However, the sores do eventually heal on their own after a couple of weeks or with the help of natural treatments.
Q: Can you "pop" a canker sore?
A: You can’t actually “pop” a canker sore, since it bursts on its own.6 Other factors like injuries, allergies or diseases7 can cause a canker sore to erupt, too. More so, a canker sore that has popped might indicate the appearance of a more painful lesion. Learn more about the common signs of canker sores and see how you can spot an infected sore.
Q: What are complex canker sores?
A: Patients with complex canker sores have lesions that are larger, more painful, heal longer and may even result in scarring.8
Q: Are canker sores the same as herpes sores?
Q: Are canker sores a sign of HIV?
A: Unfortunately, canker sores can be an indicator of HIV/AIDS, especially if they appear along with other symptoms like dry mouth and dental problems.9 Canker sores might also be a sign of other potentially devastating conditions, like celiac disease and inflammatory bowel diseases.10
Q: Can you use alum powder for canker sore relief?
A: Alum powder is a white substance used in canning and pickling, although some people have proven that it’s effective for canker sore treatment, especially when it comes to numbing the pain. However, a major caveat about alum powder is it causes a temporary stinging or burning sensation once applied to the sore.11