Table of Contents
- Canker sores facts
- What are canker sores? What do canker sores look like?
- What are symptoms and signs of canker sores?
- Are canker sores the same thing as fever blisters?
- What are the causes of canker sores?
- What is the treatment for canker sores?
- What kind of topical medications (gels or ointments) are available for canker sores?
- Can mouthwash solutions be used to treat canker sores?
- What oral medications are available to help canker sores?
- What should I do if I get canker sores frequently?
What are canker sores? What do canker sores look like?
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis) are small, painful ulcers inside the mouth. They may occur on the tongue and on the inside linings of the cheeks, lips, and throat. They usually appear white, gray, or yellow in color, with a red border.
Canker sores are among the most common types of oral lesions, affecting about 20% of people. Women get canker sores more often than men. Canker sore susceptibility may be inherited, and the condition can run in families.
Canker sores are not the same as cold sores (fever blisters), which are an infection caused by the herpes virus and are contagious. Canker sores are not contagious, and are categorized into three types:
- Minor sores measure from 3 to 10 millimeters (mm) and are the most common type of canker sore. Lesions last 10 to 14 days and heal without scarring.
- Major sores are larger and deeper than minor sores, have an irregular border and a diameter of greater than 10 mm. Major canker sores may take weeks to months to heal and can leave a scar after healing.
- Herpetiform sores are characterized by large groups of multiple sores. These are small ulcers (2-3 mm) but there may be as many as 100 ulcers present at the same time. They tend to heal without scarring.