Home remedies for canker sores.
There’s no shortage of suggestions about home remedies for canker sores (more formally termed “recurrent minor aphthous ulcers”). We’ve picked out 7 of the best ones and explain how they’re used and why they work. They include:
- Milk of magnesia and Benadryl®
- Tannin (tea bags)
- Alum (styptic pencils)
- Silver nitrate
- Peroxide rinse
- Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures (yogurt)
- Herbal remedies
This page also discusses the everyday, common-sense things you should be doing (if you’re not already) that can help to control the frequency of your outbreaks.
Home remedies for canker sores (aphthous ulcers) –
Home Remedy #1 – Swish Milk of Magnesia. (Option – Combined with Benadryl®.)
There are two ways to use milk of magnesia as a remedy for canker sores.
Method #1 – Just using milk of magnesia alone.
With this method, just swish plain “milk of magnesia” (Kaopectate®, Maalox®, or a generic equivalent, straight from the bottle) over your sore(s).
Why does swishing milk of magnesia work?
Its thick sticky nature forms a coating over the lesion’s ulcerated surface that can help to protect it from irritation, like that caused by hot, cold, or spicy foods and beverages.
Method #2 – Mixing milk of magnesia with Benadryl®.
If you need more relief than the first method offers, try mixing your milk of magnesia 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. (After meals and before bed makes a good routine.) Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after spitting the solution out.
Why does swishing milk of magnesia and Benadryl work?
The benefit of using this remedy is two-fold:
- The milk of magnesia forms a protective coating over your sore that helps to shield it from irritating foods and beverages.
- The Benadryl portion of the mixture acts as a numbing agent that helps to reduce the amount of pain the sore causes when irritated.
Tips for using milk of magnesia as a remedy.
Home Remedy #2 – Apply a tea bag.
Treating your canker sores with a tea bag can help to reduce the amount of pain they cause.
When using this method, place a damp tea bag over your sore(s) for several minutes. You can use the same bag over again for repeat applications.
Why does tea bag application work?
Tea contains the compound tannin which is an astringent. Astringents shrink tissues and aid healing by reducing inflammation.
Tips for using the tea bag remedy.
Just use plain/common “black tea” (the kind usually used to make iced tea).
Home Remedy #3 – Apply a styptic pencil.
Dabbing a styptic pencil on the area where you first feel a canker sore forming can help to limit its development.
Apply the pencil and then let its ingredients sit for about a minute. Then rinse and spit. Application of the pencil typically stings a bit.
Why does applying a styptic pencil work?
Styptic pencils contain the compound alum (anhydrous aluminum sulfate). Alum is an astringent and causes tissue contraction and enhances wound healing by decreasing inflammation.
Tips for using a styptic pencil.
The earlier you begin this treatment (like when you first feel a sore forming but can’t yet see any visible signs) the better your results will be.
Diagram of canker sore lesion.
The silver nitrate is applied directly to the sore.
Home Remedy #4 – Apply silver nitrate.
Why does applying silver nitrate work?
Tips about using silver nitrate.
Home Remedy #5 – Swish with a hydrogen peroxide solution.
Mix one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a glass of water and then gently swish it over your sores and throughout the rest of your mouth. Do this 2 or 3 times a day. (O’Neill)
Why does swishing with hydrogen peroxide work?
The solution helps to cleanse and disinfect your sores, mouth and, in general, create a more positive environment for both healing and the prevention of secondary infection.
Altenburg states that a 0.5% solution of hydrogen peroxide (a one to five dilution of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution) applied to sores (cotton swab) has the effect of chemically cauterizing them, similar in nature to the silver nitrate application discussed above.
Tips about using hydrogen peroxide.
Home Remedy #6 – Use herbal remedies.
Herbal teas / rinses.
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 a 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.
Tips about using herbal remedies.
Herbal remedies can have unexpected effects and interfere with some medications. You should consult with your health care provider before initiating treatment on your own.
Home Remedy #7 – Eat yogurt.
Regular consumption of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus is thought to be beneficial in helping to prevent canker sore outbreaks (frequency and number of sores).
A good source is the food yogurt. You must, however, make sure that the brand you choose specifically states that it contains an active culture. Not all do.
Hegde reports that coconut oil provides a soothing and protective effect for canker sores. The oil is a source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which stimulate the growth of Lactobacilli.
Methods include applying coconut oil directly to sores, chewing raw coconut, or rinsing with coconut milk.
Tips about using a Lactobacillus acidophilus approach.
FYI: In passing, we’ll mention that canker sores are not contagious. So, when treating them (touching them, disposing of applicators used to apply medication, etc..), there are no special concerns in regard to the potential for spreading them. For more details: Canker sores are not contagious.
Other common sense home remedies that help –
If you only experience canker sores a few times a year, with each episode lasting just a few days and causing only minimal pain, the tips and pointers outlined below may be all the more remedy you need in dealing with or preventing your lesions.
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 gentle too. Make sure you’re not using a toothbrush that’s too harsh. Most dentists recommend using a “soft” one (check the toothbrush’s packaging).
B) Monitor the types of foods you eat.
For some people, certain types of foods View the list. 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 person’s nutritional deficiency View the list.. For this reason, taking a multivitamin may help to limit their occurrence. Make sure the one you take contains 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.
Page references sources:
Altenburg A, et al. Practical aspects of management of recurrent aphthous stomatitis.
Hegde S, et al. Traditional methods used by patients for the management of recurrent aphthous stomatitis.
McBride D. Management of Aphthous Ulcers.
O’Neill H, et al. The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies.
All reference sources for topic Canker Sores.