Canker sores are common, but they can be painful and annoying. Over-the-counter treatments are readily available, but there are a number of natural ways to hasten the healing process.
It is not unusual for people to develop a canker sore up to four times each year. These ulcerations develop on the inside of a lip or cheek. Canker sores are typically yellow or white in color and are surrounded by reddened inflammation. The problem can last from one to three weeks. However, in some cases, the sores may last up to six weeks. In more severe instances, the lesions may be accompanied by a fever, swollen lymph glands and general malaise.
Canker sores are not contagious. However, the precise reason for their development remains unknown. Contributing factors include stress, injury or illness. Children and adults with impaired immune systems are more prone to developing canker sores. People living with celiac or Crohn's disease are also at a higher risk. The lesions might occur secondary to complex B vitamin, iron or zinc deficiencies.
Canker Sore Dos and Don'ts
Eating acidic fruits and vegetables may cause a canker sore to appear. The foods can also irritate and make the lesion worse. Grapefruit, lemons, oranges, pineapples, tomatoes along with fermented foods all have high citric acid levels, which may erode soft tissues over time. They also aggravate canker sores and may lead to additional eruptions. The acid content of coffee is another problem along with carbonated beverages. Salty foods add to the discomfort. Nuts, chips and other sharp snack foods can damage healthy tissues and further disrupt the healing process of existing sores. Sharp areas on a tooth, braces or improperly fitting dentures can all cause soft tissue injuries, which may lead to canker sores.
Foods that are recommended in order to hasten the healing of cold sores should be rich in complex B vitamins, iron and zinc. Healthier meals may include lean meats, poultry and fish along with dark green and leafy vegetables. Beans, cheeses, milk and shellfish are also nutritious options.
Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores
Canker sores and cold sores are not the same. When sick with a cold, cold sores or fever blisters may erupt secondary to the herpes simplex 1 virus. When the virus emerges, painful blisters appear on the outside of the mouth on, above or below a lip, around the nose or under the chin area. While canker sores are not contagious, cold sores are indeed contagious.
Natural Homemade Remedies for Canker Sores
Over-the-counter treatments are available for canker sores, but natural remedies may be preferable in many cases. These types of preparations can potentially ease or eliminate a person's symptoms without the need for harsh chemicals or treatments. Most are easy to prepare and contain ingredients that are commonly found around the house.
Aloe Vera Swish for Canker Sores
Ancient peoples around the world long favored the aloe vera plant for its cleansing and healing properties. In recent years, scientists have uncovered some of the secrets of the plant's health benefits. The gel contains vitamins A, complex B, C and E, and nine different minerals and phytonutrients that promote healing by providing much-needed tissue nourishment. Aloe vera additionally contains eight types of enzymes known to reduce swelling and inflammation while encouraging new cell growth. The gel also protects cells from the free radicals that cause damage and aging.
1 tsp. Aloe Vera 100% Gel
1 Tbs. water
Combine the gel with the water.
Swish the mixture three times daily to alleviate discomfort and promote healing.
Chamomile Tea Bag Remedy
Chamomile has been used for thousands of years by different cultures as an alternative medicine. The flowers possess analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties along with having a pleasant fragrance.
1 Tbs. Chamomile Flowers
Put the flowers in a piece of cheesecloth and close using string.
Soak the flowers for three to four minutes in water.
Apply the tea bag to the sore for 5 to 10 minutes.
Repeat two times a day.
Clove Oil Remedy
The Chinese have used this fragrant spice for thousands of years in cooking and as a form of alternative medicine. Clove oil is widely favored for its anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
4 to 5 drops of Clove Oil
Warm plain or salted water
Swish with plain or salt water to cleanse the mouth.
Combine the clove and olive oils.
Dab a cotton ball into the mixture.
Apply the cotton ball to the canker sore.
Coconut Oil Remedy
Coconut oil offers a number of skin benefits, which include harboring antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Apply a liberal amount of coconut oil to a cotton swab.
Apply the oil directly to the canker sore.
Homemade Cayenne Cream for Canker Sores
South American and Native American cultures prized the cayenne chili pepper for at least 9,000 years for the spice's analgesic properties. The capsaicin compound in the spice interferes with a substance known simply as “P,” which is responsible for transmitting pain messages to the brain.
Mix the spice with enough warm water to form a paste.
Dab a cotton swab into the mixture and apply it to the canker sore.
Repeat the treatment two to three times a day.
Numbing Spray Remedy
The cooling characteristics of eucalyptus and peppermint oils help calm the inflammation and ease the discomfort commonly associated with canker sores. The oils additionally have antimicrobial properties.
10 drops Peppermint Essential Oils
8 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oils
Small spray bottle
Pour all of the ingredients into the bottle.
Cover and shake well to mix. Shake before each use.
Spray the mixture onto canker sores as needed.
Raw Honey Remedy
Raw honey has been used for thousands of years to treat skin wounds due to the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the sweet treat. The lactic acid in honey is detrimental to microbes. If a wound is moist, the moisture combines with compounds in the honey to transform into hydrogen peroxide, which also offers antimicrobial benefits. Antioxidants stop free radical damage and promote cell healing.
Cleanse the mouth by swishing with warm water.
Apply a dab of raw honey to the canker sore.
Treat the area two to three times daily, at least once right before bed.
Sage Swish for Canker Sores
This common spice belongs to the mint family and has anti-inflammatory properties. Chemical compounds in sage act as antioxidants, which combat cellular damage from free radicals.
2 tsp. Sage
4 to 8 ounces of water
Add the sage to the water and boil for at least 10 minutes.
Allow the mixture to cool.
Put approximately 1 Tbs. of the solution into the mouth and swish for at least 60 seconds.
Spit the sage water out and rinse with plain water.
Make a pulp by combining the sage with warm water.
Apply the paste to the sore and leave for approximately five minutes.
Remove the pulp and rinse with plain water.