thrush summary

Canker sores are painful lesions that appear mainly on the oral mucosa, on the tongue, inside the lips and cheeks, palate and throat. It is sometimes referred to as “self-injury”, as it is not caused by fungi, bacteria or other microorganisms. The size of the ulcers varies, we can distinguish between minor (small) and giant aphthas.

The causes of canker sores are not fully known, but it is believed that they are linked to the consumption of certain foods (cheese, almonds, dried fruits, foods with certain preservatives, acidic fruits) and drugs (NSAIDs, benzoic acid, chemotherapy), which can be aphthogenic.
It is also suspected that the cold sore is a manifestation common to several other diseases, especially of an immunological nature, lack of oral hygiene, immunosuppression, stress, genetic predisposition, nutritional deficiency, etc.

Canker sores are not infectious, so they are not transmitted from one person to another. It has an incidence of about 20-50% in the world population and worsens in adulthood. Duration is about 1 to 2 weeks, disappearing spontaneously.
These lesions are characterized by having a circular or oval appearance, like small craters, with a whitish or yellowish background and redness around them.

The treatment aims to improve the symptoms of pain and discomfort and for this, sodium bicarbonate, appropriate ointments, mouthwashes with anti-inflammatories, corticoids, among others, can be used. Medicines for the treatment of canker sores are usually found in the form of gels, mouthwashes, pastilles, creams, pastes, etc…

Plants such as mallow , black tea , witch hazel , rhubarb , sage and licorice aid in the treatment.

Tips: if the patient already has a tendency to develop a cold sore, it is recommended that he adopt adequate oral hygiene measures, as well as avoid the consumption of foods that may trigger the disease. The consumption of foods with vitamin C and complex B prevents the appearance of aphthous lesions.


The word aphtha comes from the Greek and means “burning”.

Canker sores are small superficial lesions (such as small ulcerations), often with a yellowish or gray color.

Canker sores are formed mainly on the oral mucosa and in particular on the inside of the cheeks and lips, tongue, gums, palate and throat. In these cases, we speak oral thrush. In some rare cases, canker sores can also appear on other organs or areas of the body, such as the genital mucosa.

There are two types of thrush:

– Aphtha minor (small in size, up to a maximum of 1 cm in diameter).

– Aphtha major (greater than 1 cm in diameter). In case of a major cold sore, a doctor should be consulted.

Some institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic in the United States, speak more about simple and complex canker sores. Complex canker sores are rarer but, as the name suggests, are difficult to cure. Often, when a complex cold sore is treated, another cold sore appears.

Some sources distinguish three types of thrush depending on their cause:

– Traumatic canker sores: caused, for example, by a poorly adapted dental prosthesis.

– Allergic thrush: due to an allergic reaction to food or medication.

– Canker sores from an illness: it can sometimes be a serious illness.

Canker sores usually heal spontaneously within one (usually 5 to 7 days) to up to two weeks, with the exception of larger canker sores, which take about two months to regress.

Canker sores have a higher incidence in women and in the higher-income population.

Canker sores in children and hand-foot-mouth syndrome

Canker sores in children are rare, but when they occur, they may be due to hand-foot-mouth syndrome. It is a benign viral infection that mainly affects children under 10 years old and heals spontaneously in about ten days.

In this syndrome, painful vesicular lesions (such as canker sores) can be seen in the mouth, hands, and feet. Fever is sometimes present. Treatment is based on the use of paracetamol to reduce fever and topical medications (eg, gel) for mouth sores. Avoid eating very hot, spicy or acidic foods.


It is estimated that between 10 to 20% of the population is affected by thrush.

Women get canker sores more often than men.

Young adults (16 to 25 years old) get canker sores more often than older or younger people. In fact, children rarely get canker sores.

Approximately 10% of the population suffer from recurrent canker sores (recurrent aphthous stomatitis).

This is the most common disease of the oral mucosa.


Although the exact cause of the appearance of canker sores remains unknown, we note that certain actions can favor it, such as:

– The abuse of aphthous foods such as cheese, dried fruit, walnuts and hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, chocolate and spices, as well as certain preservatives (E210, E200, …) and gluten (found in wheat) can favor the development of canker sores. It should be noted, therefore, that people allergic to gluten (celiac disease) often suffer from recurrent thrush. These foods that trigger canker sores are often high in histamine.

Food is the main cause of canker sores;

– The use of certain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics , benzoic acid (E210), antivitamin K, meprobamate, chemotherapy in general (medicines used in cases of cancer, such as leukemia ,…);

– A lack of oral hygiene;

– Iron deficiency ;

– Irritations in the oral cavity due to a filling or denture;

– Virus ( herpes , AIDS );

– When we bite the inside of the cheek.

– In certain cases, canker sores can precede other illnesses, such as fever , herpes , or diseases of the digestive tract ( Crohn’s disease ).

– We also observed that the appearance of canker sores is more favorable in the following cases:

– Patients in a state of stress (overload)

– Menstrual period

– Puberty

– Pregnancy

– Menopause

– Diabetes

– Allergies

– Alcoholism and/or smoking

– Genetic predisposition


Canker sores can be compared to small round or oval craters, with a yellowish bottom and surrounded by an inflamed red border. Minor forms of thrush manifest themselves through small ulcers with a diameter of 2 to 5 mm. Healing of these canker sores usually takes 7 to 10 days, most of the time it occurs spontaneously.
Giant canker sores (more than 1 cm in diameter) take longer to heal, usually 10 to 40 days.

Mouth sores appear on the gums, inside the lips and cheeks, on the edge of the tongue, palate and throat.

They are usually very painful. This pain may increase when the patient eats.

In some severe cases of thrush, other symptoms such as fever may be observed.

If the canker sores persist after a few weeks or it is a giant canker sore, see a doctor.

Canker sores can be a symptom of diseases such as Behçet’s syndrome (in this case, the lesions observed in different places other than the mouth, such as the genitals, eyes, lungs, etc.), mononucleosis , herpes or prolonged fever.

Some of these diseases can be very serious, such as pernicious anemia, anemia or leukemia.

Recurrent canker sores or recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS)

In cases of EAR, canker sores are recurrent. The interval between attacks can vary from weeks to months. In some cases, the interval may decrease over time.

It is not cancer or very rarely
In the vast majority of cases, canker sores do not invade underlying tissues. This is what differentiates them from cancer1 . Indeed, precancerous ulcers are rare, but when they do occur, minor surgical procedures can stop them from progressing.


The doctor will carefully observe the oral cavity, will analyze the shape, diameter and location of the canker sores.

In severe cases, the doctor can carry out additional tests in addition to observation, such as performing a biopsy (looking for more serious diseases that can cause canker sores).


Duration of canker sores
– First, note that for mild cases of canker sores, healing is almost always spontaneous (without treatment) within 5 to 7 days. Some sources, such as Prevention magazine, estimate that it often takes 10 to 14 days to cure a cold sore.
– In the case of larger canker sores (1-4 cm), it can sometimes persist for up to two months. In that case, consult a doctor.

– The first step to relieving pain is to improve oral hygiene with the help of a specific toothpaste or mouthwash with antiseptics.

– It is also possible to alleviate pain with the help of specific medications that contain anesthetics (lidocaine), local anti-inflammatories (acetylsalicylic acid,…), paracetamol -based medications , corticoids (to reduce the inflammatory response), antibacterials, dietary supplementation of vitamins , use of oral antiseptics, oral antibiotics.

These medications are available in the form of a gel, buccal spray, buccal solution or lozenges.

– To accompany the treatment, you can gargle with water and a little salt, 2-3 times a day. In fact, as sores in the mouth are caused by hyperacidity, we will use salt to remove this acidity.

Medical treatment

Recurrent canker sores (recurrent aphthous stomatitis) and giant canker sores are usually the subject of medical treatment.

– According to some specialists, the most effective treatment against canker sores is the use of topical corticosteroids. This treatment inhibits the body’s immune response. These medicines can be administered in the form of a mouthwash, lozenges, etc.

– In some cases, your doctor may use a low-energy laser treatment to reduce pain and promote healing.

– In more severe cases, especially in cases of giant canker sores (more than 1 cm in diameter), or in cases of resistance to topical corticosteroid treatment, the doctor may use systemic treatments such as corticosteroids (by mouth), colchicine, azathioprine, thalidomide (attention to contraindications for use in pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant, restricted to medical prescription) and, sometimes, various antibiotics.

Medicinal plants

Here are some medicinal plants that can help in the treatment of canker sores (herbal medicine and canker sores).

– Malva (in tea or gargle solution)

– Black tea (apply the damp bag on the canker sores)

– Witch hazel (in tea)

– Rhubarb (in solution to be applied on canker sores)

– Sage (in tea , mouthwash or gargle solution)

– Licorice (in tablets)

Essencial oils

Essential oils effective against canker sores are tea tree essential oil and rose essential oil which are used in mouthwashes.

For tea tree essential oil, simply dilute 3 to 4 drops in a little water. As for rose essential oil, 1 drop is enough for a glass of water.

home remedies

According to a doctor from the city of Bern, Switzerland, gargling with a solution of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) and vitamin C would prevent and even cure canker sores.

Dosage: gargle for a few minutes, from the first characteristic symptoms of the cold sore, several times a day.

Note slight absorption may occur in the mouth (due to the aspirin), so don’t overdo it with gargles. Read the package insert, ask a pharmacist for advice if you are sensitive to aspirin, and let your pharmacist know if you use other medications.

Comment by Create : This tip is ideal, above all, when canker sores are scattered in various parts of the oral cavity.

– Aloe gel (against pain)


– Avoid the consumption of foods that may favor the appearance of canker sores (spices, cheese, chocolate, almonds, nuts).

– Respect the rules of oral hygiene (toothbrush, dental floss, fluoride solution). Brush your teeth gently.

– To ease the pain, it is possible to cover the canker sores with a disinfectant mouthwash.

– It is advisable to seek the advice of a doctor if the canker sores appear very frequently, if they exceed 1cm in diameter (major), if they bleed or if the pain is very intense.

– Feed yourself with nutrients or supplements rich in vitamin C and/or B vitamins. These vitamins have a positive effect on the treatment and prevention of canker sores. Intake of zinc and iron is also recommended .

– As already mentioned, the definition of canker sores are: small ulcers in the mouth. They can appear as a result of body hyperacidity, resulting for example in an increase in acid in the esophagus.

To have a good acid-base balance, pay attention to your diet. Foods such as: red meat, sweets, melon, nuts, etc., favor the appearance of canker sores.
To balance this acidity overload, go on a salad diet.

You can improve your acid-base balance with products like salad. A little bit of this will be good to reduce the unpleasant canker sores.

– Apply an ice cube on the canker sore, it can help relieve the pain.

– Try to relax through different methods or exercises, stress can promote the development of mouth ulcers, having an effect on the immune system.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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