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Lesions in the Mouth? Read About Aphthous Ulcers/Canker Sores


Aphthous ulcers are shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in the mouth or at the base of your gums.

Females are more affected than males, and about 20% of the population gets these ulcers or canker sores. [1]

  • Treatable with medications
  • Self-diagnosable
  • Laboratory tests are required in cases of recurrent ulcers
  • Acute: Improves in one or two weeks

These are typically recurrent ulcers, round, or oval shaped, on the inside of lips, cheeks, or underneath the tongue. Usually, females also get ulcers around the genitals; and these are painful and swell up quickly. Nutritional deficiency, viral infections, physical injury, sleeplessness, emotional stress, and even menstruation can affect the mucosal tissues and cause these ulcers.

Ages affected: 10-40 most often; 40 and above-moderately affected; and under 10- least affected



People may experience

  • Ulcers: That are shallow, usually minor but can be major or herpetiform.
  • Affected areas: Inside of cheeks and lips, under the tongue, base of gums, or around genitals.
  • Color: Normally, white or yellowish with a red border
  • Pain and swelling: In genital ulcers
  • Difficulties: While eating or drinking


Self-care: Use small-headed, soft toothbrush, avoid harsh foods that may cause any trauma to the ulcers. A diet that is replete with nutrition is recommended in case deficiencies are the cause of canker sores. Antibacterial mouthwashes or medical toothpastes can also help.

Medications: Topical corticosteroids are mainly given to patients, while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also shorten the healing time and provide pain relief. When these do not help, systemic immunomodulators are required.

Specialists: Several blood tests are done to evaluate the cause of recurring or severe ulcers. Specialists may resort to low-level laser therapy for effective relief.
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