Have you ever accidentally bitten down hard on your lip or inside cheek? If you have, there’s a high chance that you’ve suffered from a canker sore. A canker sore is a painful mouth ulcer with a yellow or white head, surrounded by red inflamed mouth tissue. Aside from the wound, a fever and swollen lymph nodes may also accompany canker sores. They’re not contagious but they may cause significant discomfort in patients.
Canker sores are caused by an injury to the mouth, acidic and spicy foods, hormones and some autoimmune disorders. Some medications may also cause canker sores, including aspirin, NSAIDs, beta-blockers and vasodilators. While canker sores usually affect the side cheeks or your inner lip, you can get them on your tongue or the throat as well, which may make them harder to deal with.
The good news is that there are numerous techniques you can try to soothe the pain or hasten the healing process. Some of them may cause temporary discomfort, but they would prove to be helpful in the long run. Most of the techniques provided in this article also don’t have side effects, unlike other over-the-counter medications you may have seen.
Easy Natural Ways to Deal With Canker Sores
When you get a canker sore, not only is it hard to move your mouth, but it’s also difficult to eat without accidentally hitting that sore spot. If you’re tired of repositioning your food to avoid the discomfort, there are a few ways that you can get rid of those pesky sores in your mouth. Here are some ways you can try:
• Apply fresh aloe vera gel. Aloe vera speeds up healing and soothes the soreness that comes with canker sores. Slice off the outer part of the aloe vera leaf to get the gel. Using a Q-tip, apply the gel to the canker sore. Repeat this process until the sore fully heals.1
• Coat the canker sore with a bit of vitamin E liquid. Cut up a vitamin E supplement and carefully apply the liquid on your canker sore. It will protect you from further infection and promote healing.2
• Apply honey. Honey contains antibacterial properties that can help you fight infections, including those that cause canker sores. A 2009 animal study from the Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences showed that the application of honey on oral mucosal ulcers promoted healing and provided a protective layer for the wound.3 Apply a small amount of raw honey on the lesion with a Q-tip. Repeat this until the canker sore heals.4
• Rinse your mouth with coconut oil. Using extra-virgin coconut oil, rinse your mouth for about 15 minutes twice daily. Coconut oil has both antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can help promote healing and protect you from other possible infections.
• Swish around chamomile tea. While chamomile tea is famous for its calming properties, it can also help alleviate inflammation and pain in canker sores. Brew a cup of chamomile tea and let it cool. Swish it around your mouth to speed up healing.5
How Do You Relieve Canker Sore Pain?
There’s no question that canker sores are a pain, especially when they’re positioned near your teeth. Here are a few techniques to help dampen the pain caused by the sores:
• Apply ice on the area. Putting ice on the canker sores can help numb the soreness. You can also melt ice chips in your mouth, positioning them on top of your canker sores.
• Rinse your mouth with milk of magnesia. Put a small amount of milk of magnesia on your canker sores a few times every day to ease the pain.6
• Apply a damp teabag on your canker sore. Applying a teabag on your canker sore can help alkalinize the area surrounding the sores.7
Chronic Cases of Canker Sores May Be Hinting at a Serious Condition
If you notice that you’ve been suffering from canker sores frequently, consider consulting a health professional in case an underlying condition is causing this canker sore emergence. Here are some of the possible autoimmune causes of canker sores:
• Pemphigus vulgaris is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the skin and the mucous membranes. It is potentially life-threatening, causing between 5 to 15 percent mortality in patients. In addition to oral erosions, lesions may also develop on the skin and nails.8
• Celiac disease. This condition refers to the intolerance of people to gluten found in wheat and grains. This causes an autoimmune response in the gut, with the immune system attacking the small intestine because of the gluten present.9
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes numerous painful symptoms, one of which is the development of small mouth sores. These typically appear during a flare-up and subside once the condition is under control.10
• Behçet's disease is a rare inflammatory condition that causes ulcers in the mouth and the genitals. The lesions usually heal but recur after a period of time. Unfortunately, the exact cause of this syndrome has not yet been determined.11
Note that having canker sores does not automatically mean that you are affected by the conditions mentioned above. It is best that you check off any of the possible causes of canker sores, such as certain dental apparatus or misaligned teeth that are causing chronic cheek biting.12 Try the natural treatments mentioned above and closely observe your canker sores for any signs of improvement.