Canker sores are sores or ulcers developing on the mucous membranes inside the mouth. It is non-contagious and also harmless. They are very common among adolescents and young adults and less frequent among the aged. For the first three to four days, canker sores pain a lot but they usually get cured on their own within a week. It is also called aphthous ulcers. It is round or oval in shape with a white or pale yellowish centre and an erythematous (red) border. Apart from pain, the person with this sore also experiences a tingling and burning sensation. Fever and swollen lymph nodes are the other less common symptoms. It often keep relapsing and can occur any where within the mouth. The lips, tongue and hard palate are however spared from canker sores. It could be of the following types:

1. Minor - This is the most widespread type. These sores are less than 10 mm in diameter. They usually do not get infected or cause scarring. They get healed within 3-14 days.

2. Major - These sores are more than 1 cm in diameter. Their margins are irregular. They take 3-6 weeks to heal and lead to extensive scarring.

3. Herpetiform - This type is actually a cluster of multiple shallow pinhead sized punched out lesions. The diameter of each lesion ranges from 1 mm to 3 mm. This type of canker sore looks like herpes infection.

The causes of it may be listed as follows: heredity, oral trauma, consumption of spicy and acidic food, stress, weakened immune system, smoking cessation, hormonal changes during menstruation, use of toothpaste containing lauryl sulfate, medications like beta-blockers and anti-inflammatory drugs, deficiencies of iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12, medical conditions like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Behcet’s disease, Celiac or abdominal sprue, AIDS etc and food allergies.

Home Remedies

1. Place wet black tea bags on canker sores. The astringent tannin in tea reduces pain and discomfort.

2. Mix 2 ounces of hydrogen peroxide with 2 ounces of water and rinse your mouth with it. This fetches rewarding results.

3. Put 1 teaspoon each of table salt and baking soda in to 4 ounces of water. Rinse mouth with the solution to get cured of canker sores.

4. Dab canker sores with a cotton ball soaked in myrrh tincture once every hour. This enables fast healing.

5. Rinsing mouth with Aloe juice can also be quite helpful in treating this problem.

6. Prepare a sage infusion and use it as a mouth wash to ease pain.

7. Application of tea tree oil on sores allows quick healing.

8. Apply honey on affected area to get rid of them.

9. Chew garlic cloves daily to get relief from this problem.

10. Daily consumption of a bowl of yoghurt clears out sores.

11. Apply raw onion juice on affected area regularly to cure them.

12. Consumption of papayas in plenty heals this problem.

13. Chewing of papaya leaves relieves the pain and discomfort caused by this problem.

14. Use plum juice as a mouth wash. This is highly beneficial in treating this problem.

15. Put 5-7 drops of grapefruit juice in a cup of water and rinse mouth with the solution. This is an effective home remedy.

16. Gargle with coconut milk twice daily. This helps to fight canker sore problem.

17. Mix apple cider vinegar in to a glass of warm water and rinse mouth with the solution. This does away with canker sores.

18. Add some water to a paste of fenugreek seeds. Stir and use the solution as a mouth wash. This is a useful canker sore remedy.

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