Canker Sores

What are canker sores?

Canker sores are small ulcer craters in the lining of the mouth that are painful and sensitive. Canker sores are very common. Canker sores are medically known as aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis.

What are symptoms of canker sores?

Canker sores are usually found on the movable parts of the mouth, such as the tongue or the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, and at the base of the gums. They begin as small oval or round reddish swellings that usually burst within a day. The ruptured sores are covered by a thin white or yellow membrane and edged by a red halo. The sores generally heal within two weeks without scarring. A person has only one or a few canker sores at a time.

Most people experience their first canker sores between the ages of 10 and 20. Children as young as 2 years old can develop the condition. The frequency of canker sore recurrences varies considerably. Some people may have a continuous series of canker sores and others, only one or two episodes a year.


  • The disease is suspected to result from a reaction of the immune system.
  • Additional causative factors may include the following:
  • bacterial infections
  • hormonal disorders
  • stress
  • trauma
  • heredity
  • drugs (including anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, and beta-blockers, such as atenolol)
  • food allergies or sensitivities (chocolate, tomatoes, nuts, and acidic foods such as pineapple)
  • toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • deficiencies of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12

What is the treatment for canker sores?

Canker sores typically resolve without any specific treatment. To alleviate the pain and discomfort , therapies include topical medications (applied directly on), mouthwashes, and oral medications.