Canker Sores (cont.)
Siamak T. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Canker sores facts
- What are canker sores?
- What are symptoms of canker sores?
- What are the causes of canker sores?
- Are canker sores the same as fever blisters?
- What steps can be taken to help 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 with canker sores?
- What oral medications are available to help canker sores?
- What should I do if I get canker sores frequently?
- What research is being done in the area of canker sores?
- Find a local Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor in your town
What should I do if I get canker sores frequently?
Contact your healthcare professional. Most cases of canker sores do not reflect an underlying illness. However, if you are having canker sores frequently, your healthcare professional can take a patient history and order tests to assure you there isn't a serious underlying cause. Certain diseases are sometimes associated with recurrent canker sores. Examples include Crohn's disease, celiac disease, Behçet's disease, lupus, or even AIDS. It should be mentioned that these are complex diseases and canker sores may be only a part of the disease and not the only feature of the disease. Canker sores also may not be present at all in some persons with these conditions.
Most doctors also recommend that patients who have frequent bouts of canker sores undergo blood and allergy tests to determine if their sores are caused by a nutritional deficiency, an allergy, or some other preventable cause.
What research is being done in the area of canker sores?
Researchers are trying to identify the malfunctions in patients' immune systems that make them susceptible to repeated bouts of canker sores. By analyzing the blood of people with and without canker sores, scientists have found several differences in the immune function between the two groups. Whether these differences cause canker sores is not yet known and more research may need to be performed.
Researchers also are developing and testing new drugs designed to treat repeated canker sores in patients with possible immune causes of canker sores. Most of these drugs alter the patient's immune function. Although some of the drugs appear to be effective in treating canker sores in some patients, the data are still inconclusive. Until these drugs are proven to be absolutely safe and effective, they will not be available for general use.
One of the new medications which has been tested is called amlexanox (Aphthasol topical paste). This is an anti-inflammatory and an anti-allergic drug. It has shown some promise in treatment of symptoms and healing of canker sores.
Learn more about: Aphthasol
More invasive treatment options for canker sores are being investigated, but for now they remain somewhat limited, controversial, and impractical. These options include laser therapy, low intensity ultrasound, silver nitrate, and surgical removal. More studies are necessary before these options can be recommended for treatment of canker sores.
REFERENCE: Medscape Reference.com. Aphthous Stomatitis.
Previous contributing author Dennis Lee, MD
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