Home remedy cures for canker sores.

There's no shortage of home remedies for canker sores (aphthous ulcers). We've picked out a few of the better known ones explain how they're used. They include:

Milk of magnesia and Benadryl®     Tannin (tea bags)     Alum (styptic pencils)     Silver nitrate     Peroxide rinses     Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures (yogurt)     Herbal remedies

This page also discusses everyday, common-sense things you should be doing (if you're not) that can help to control the frequency of your outbreaks.

[Also, don't overlook the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications.]


Home remedies -

A) Swish Milk of Magnesia (with Benadryl®).

You can use this remedy in two separate ways.

1) As a first step, try swishing just plain "milk of magnesia" (Kaopectate®, Maalox® or a generic equivalent) over your sores.

Doing so will create a coating that can help to protect them from irritation, such as that caused by hot, cold or spicy foods and beverages.

2) If you need more relief than the first step offers, try mixing it with an equal amount of Benadryl® Allergy liquid (diphenhydramine 12.5mg/5ml) (one teaspoonful or so of each). Swish with this mixture (and then spit it out) as often as four to six times a day. (McBride 2000) [topic references]

Its benefit is two-fold. It will help to protect your ulcers from irritation (the milk of magnesia does this) and reduce the amount of pain they cause (the Benadryl portion of the mixture acts as a numbing agent).

B) Black tea.

Treating your sore with tea can help to reduce the amount of pain it causes.

With this method, you place a moist-to-wet tea bag over your sore for several minutes. You can use the same bag over again for several applications.

Just use a plain, regular "black" tea bag (the kind usually used to make iced tea). The effective agent it contains is tannin (an astringent).

Diagram showing the characteristics of an aphthous ulcer.

Canker sores have a white, membrane-coated center and surrounding red border. (Pictures)

C) Styptic pencils.

Dabbing a styptic pencil on the area where you first feel a canker sore forming can help to inhibit its development. Styptic pencils contain the astringent alum (anhydrous aluminum sulfate).

The earlier you begin treatment the better. Application typically stings.

D) Silver nitrate.

Silver nitrate can be used to help to deaden the pain from ulcers. It's applied via the use of a silver nitrate "stick" (available in pharmacies). (McBride 2000)

The application process itself stings. The idea is that this treatment transforms the canker sore into a different, less painful, type of wound that then ultimately heals (chemical cauterization). In some cases, this approach may create a wound that takes longer to heal than the original sore itself.

E) Hydrogen peroxide.

Mix one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a glass of water and then gently swish it over your sores and through out the rest of your mouth. Do this 2 or 3 times a day. (O'Neill 1999)

It will help to cleanse and disinfect your sores, mouth and, in general, create a more positive environment for both healing and the prevention of secondary infection.

You'll find 3% hydrogen peroxide in the medical/dental section of your local store. It usually comes in brown plastic bottles.

F) Herbal remedies.

Tea made from goldenseal root has also been suggested as a remedy. Swish-and-spit the tea or else dampen a small swatch of cloth with it and then place the cloth over your canker sore. Goldenseal is both an astringent and antiseptic.

In similar fashion, the herb sage can be used to create a tea, or mix tea tree oil and water (1 to 10 ratios) and rinse once or twice a day with it.

The use of herbal sedatives (chickweed and violet) or anti-anxiety agents (rockrose) have been suggested as treatments, by way of helping the sufferer to minimize their levels of stress.

(Keep in mind that herbal remedies can have unexpected effects and interfere with some medications. You should consult with your health care provider before initiating treatment.)

G) Yogurt (lactobacillus acidophilus).

Regular consumption of the bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus is thought to be beneficial in helping to prevent outbreaks.

A good source is yogurt. You must, however, make sure that the brand you choose specifically states that it contains an active culture. Not all do. Another option is Lactobacillus tablets.


Common sense things.

A) Minimize your potential for oral trauma.

Since soft tissue trauma often triggers canker sore formation, you should try to minimize your mouth's potential for injury.

People with broken teeth, rough or broken fillings, or teeth with excessively sharp edges should be treated by your dentist.

Dentures that have sharp or rough borders should be smoothed or repaired by a dentist.

Orthodontic patients can cover pointed wires and brackets with wax (you can find it at any drugstore).

When you brush your teeth, it's important to be thorough but be gentle too.

B) Monitor the types of foods you eat.

For some people, certain types of foods tend to trigger their outbreaks. If that's true for you, you should keep a diary as a way of monitoring which kinds seem to be at fault.

Once you have a few candidates in mind, try a series of "elimination diets." Each one should specifically omit one or more of the items you most suspect.

C) Keep a healthy diet.

Outbreaks are sometimes triggered by a nutritional deficiency. For this reason, taking a multivitamin may help to limit their occurrence. Make the one you take contains the vitamin B12.

Severe sores can impair a person's ability to eat. During these times, it's important to maintain adequate fluid and nutritional intake. The use of a liquid dietary supplement, such as Ensure or Sustacal, might be indicated.

D) Avoid foods that may cause irritation.

Some types of foods and beverages are likely to irritate your canker sores. For example, hard or crunchy foods, like potato chips, can poke or rub their surface. Spicy or salty foods often trigger a stinging response.

Acidic drinks (like tomato or orange juice) and alcoholic beverages can cause ulcer irritation. If so, try using a straw or just sipping them slowly. Drinking cold, non-acidic beverages can create a soothing effect.

E) Minimize your stress levels.

Stress is clearly a trigger for canker sores. But reducing it is easier said than done, if not impossible.

Even if you can't get rid of it, just keep in mind that when you are stressed is when an outbreak is likely to occur. Knowing that can give you the opportunity to be on the lookout and begin a suitable treatment sooner rather than later.

 

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