Home Remedies for a Canker Sore

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canker sore home remedies

Have you ever eaten something and the hardness, crunchiness, saltiness or acidity irritated the inside of your mouth? Many ignore these signs for a while until they finally catch sight of an unattractive, disturbing oral sore while looking in the mirror. Although it looks pretty intimidating, canker sores are not a life-threatening or serious occurrence. Canker sores are not contagious; meaning you can still kiss your sweetie without passing on the pain, but let’s help you out all the same with some good folk home remedies for a canker sore.

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores, (also known as aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis), are small lesions that form in the inside of the mouth, lips, cheeks, throat, and even the tongue [1]. Despite their appearance, canker sores shouldn’t be confused with cold sores or fever blisters, which are associated with the herpes simplex virus. Canker sores may appear as one or develop in clusters. As previously stated, they are not contagious and often heal without treatment between 7-14 days.

Symptoms of Canker Sores

While the main symptoms and signs regarding canker sores are the sore itself and the pain that accompanies it, there are additional details to consider. Below are a few things to expect when canker sores strike:

a) The Size:

Canker sores are round in shape and can vary in size, ranging from about 1/4 inch (or 6 millimeters) to 1 inch (or 25 millimeters) [1]. This means you could have a sore on the inside of your mouth from the size of a corn kernel to the size of a quarter.

b) The Color:

Canker sores swell in size and eventually burst, leaving behind a white or yellow appearance with a red border.

c) The Feeling:

While it takes close to two weeks for a canker sore to fully heal, pain is a definite symptom. Often, the worst of it is experienced during the first 3-4 days of its development. A tingling or burning sensation almost always occurs.

d) Uncommon Symptoms:

In some cases, people may experience a fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and/or feel under the weather.

Causes and Risk Factors

While no one is sure of the exact cause of canker sores, there seems to be a few factors that put people more at risk. Below you will find a few reasons why people may develop canker sores:

a) Heredity:

Even though canker sores aren’t contagious, in some cases, it is believed that the condition can be passed along the family tree. For example, a mother who often develops canker sores has a 90% chance of passing this vulnerability onto her offspring.

b) Poor Diet and Nutritional Deficiencies:

When a person doesn’t get enough folic acid, vitamin B12, and iron in their diet, they run the risk of developing canker sores. Food allergies have also been known to trigger the sores.

c) Weak Immune System:

Those who experience numerous canker sore outbreaks may suffer from a weakened immune system. Paying a visit to the doctor is recommended.

d) Mouth Injuries:

If you bite the inside of your lip or brush too hard, you’re asking for trouble in the oral department. The inside of the mouth is rather delicate and any damage can set off the development of a canker sore.

e) Emotional Stress:

It is believed that stress causes canker sores in a handful of people.

f) Age:

Although canker sores can strike anyone, it seems that younger individuals in their teens and early twenties get them the most.

g) Gender:

On the average, women are two times more likely to suffer from canker sores than men. This may have something to do with their menstrual cycles, where the start of their period has been known to trigger canker sore activity.

Home Remedies for a Canker Sore

Although a doctor may prescribe a topical steroid to treat canker sores, treatments are really unnecessary [2]. Canker sores usually heal without medication within 7-10 days. During this time, a person will often turn to home remedies to ease the irritation and discomfort that the sores bring with them. Below are a few home remedies for a canker sore to consider when you wish to avoid the use of over-the-counter drugs:

a) Homemade Rinses:

You can create a homemade solution that is used four times per day to reduce the discomfort associated with canker sores. The most popular and effective home remedy for canker sore rinses use ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, salt, and baking soda. Individuals may find relief when combining 2 ounces of hydrogen peroxide with 2 ounces of water. Another canker sore home remedy mixes 4 ounces of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda [1].


b) Black Tea:

Even doctors agree with placing wet black tea bags on canker sores to ease pain. An astringent called tannin is contained within the tea, which reduces discomfort.

c) Myrrh:

You can create a pure myrrh tincture, which is dabbed on canker sores once every hour. This great natural home remedy for a canker sore may also treat mouth and tongue ulcers.

d) Sage:

When creating a sage infusion, you may use as a mouthwash to ease canker sore discomfort.

Canker Sore Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent canker sores. Once they erupt, they stick around for a little bit and then fade away. If you follow a healthy diet and get enough sleep, you may lessen your chances for suffering a canker sore attack. Stress also affects the onset of canker sores, so perhaps meditation or worrying less could contribute to keeping canker sores at bay. Additional preventive measures include:

a) Avoid Abrasive Foods:

Foods that have an abrasive tendency have a reputation to irritate the insides of the mouth. Potato chips and nuts have been known to cause oral irritation.

b) Avoid Food Irritants:

Protect the delicate nature of your oral cavity by avoiding salty, spicy, and acid-filled fruits and vegetables, such as lemons and tomatoes.

c) Soft Bristle Toothbrushes:

To help break the habit of brushing your teeth too hard, you should purchase a soft bristle toothbrush. Coupled with a hydrogen peroxide or baking soda toothpaste, you may encourage the healthy balance within of your mouth.



  • Julie

    soak a q tip in vinegar and apply directly to sore as this will instantly shrink the sore

  • jan

    I don’t really know of anything that can ease it. putting vinegar on it is really very painful to specially canker suffers like me who had really big ones. Something that helps though is drinking hot tea when you eat. It is not as painful as when you drink something cold. just make sure you don’t burn your tongue or mouth with the drink.

    I have been to the doctor for said problem thinking it is viral but is is not. The only thing that the doctor could think of is stress. I was hospitalized twice for the same canker sore problem and they did not find anything. I refused biopsy since i really believed it is not cancer.

    The problem that i have is that my tongue really looked rotten when i have the sores. I cannot eat or drink and at 5’1 my weight was down to 79 lbs. at the hospital the only thing they did was lots of i.v. fluids, gave me both antibiotics and antifungals just to makes sure that if it is a bacterial or fungal infection it will get rid of it. I was hospitalized in 2002 and 2004. Last year i was saved since i had a baby. Everytime i am pregnant i am in really good shape and health.

    Currently, i am starting to have some again. I don’t mind having one or two but now i have more than 6 and a very large one on my tongue. If anyone can help me please let me know. doctors and going to the hospital helps for a while but my sores still comes back.

  • Parker

    I don’t get them a lot, but I have braces, so every time I even open my mouth, it rips open the sore. This is a definite problem for me. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you,

  • Glenna

    To Parker:

    Use wax on the part of the braces that rub the inside of your mouth. My son’s orthodontist gave him wax to use for this very reason, and it does really help.

  • Maggie

    A warm rinse with salt water will help reduce the sore, and soothe it at the same time. In between rinses, dab a little oragel on it to take the pain away.

  • PJ

    alum works… it helps draw fluid from the canker and hep it heal. It will burn like crazy for a few minutes. Repeat once or twice a day…. and GONE. You can find it in the spice section

  • katie

    I have a 2 really big ones right now in the front portion of my mouth positioned perfectly so my bottom teeth scrape them all day long. I’ve been getting them since i was 5 (now 29)and although there is no cure I have tried taking a q-tip and dipping it into Hydrogen Peroxide and applying it right to the sore.

    It hurts like hell at first, especially if you rub it on there, but actually, our brains naturally release endorphins in our bloodstreams and the sore is numb afterwards for about 1/2 hour. Its really not that bad after you do it a couple times. Other than that, all the creams at the store turn white and make it look as though I’m frothing at the mouth~very unattractive!

  • Maggie

    There are these “Canker Cover” disc like things that work like a miracle! They adhere to the canker sore itself and seal them and penetrate them with nutrients that cause them to shrink considerably if not disappear completely in 24 hours. I didn’t think they would work that well but I was in pain and desperate. I wore mine to bed and slept with them on…I had a mouthful of the beasts…they next morning…most of them were gone and the few that were left looked like the end of week two in the healing process.

    I was amazed and thrilled! I bought these at CVS in the same section with all the other canker stuff that doesn’t work. Word of warning…they hurt like I can’t explain at the first application. I had to punch a pillow and squeeze my fists to endure it…but then…the soothing starts! Worth the pain!

  • Kassidy

    i have braces so my teeth are constantly rubbing my gums. right now i have 3 sores right along were the brackects rub. if you have braces, and are still in middle/highschool try avoiding getting hit in the mouth in gym class(if you have it).

  • khahola

    use your own ear wax it causes it go away fast along with the pain just take saome out your ear place on it.

  • TJ

    I was one of the handful that suffered these sores due to stress,, for almost 16yrs the whole time I was married,, I got divorced and the sore have gone away and never came back.. I tried everything, from iodine,salt poured right on them, peroxide,I saw doctors and cancer specialist, had them burned off and was told they would never come back in that spot, they did come back,, the only relief I found was a product called zylactin, it puts a film over and burns really bad at first but lasts pretty long and at least u can eat,drink and talk..

  • lori

    a simple white aspirin tablet will do the trick. place it on the canker sore. it will sting like hell, but it will eventually heal it much quicker. when it feels as though it’s starting to dissolve spit it out. repeat if necessary. What also does the trick and hurts even more is using your tooth brush to brush the white out of the canker sore. that kills the bacteria. it may bleed a little, but it will heal it fast.

  • Jason

    I use peroxide but when I do this it creates a white film over the sore and surrounding area. Whats up with that? Any help would be appreciated.

  • turkey man

    I have found a fail proof way of getting rid of canker sores, all that you need to do is take some toe nail clippers and sterilize them, then carefully take the clippers and clip off the canker sore, you will need to clip off alittle bit of extra skin to get the whole sore, it hurts just for about 10 seconds but the canker is instantly gone and you dont have to deal with it anymore, i have clipped them off both my cheek and my tongue, obviously there are going to be some places you cant reach or really should clip but generally you can get them this way. it may bleed a little but the bleeding goes away fast it is well worth it, not for sissies

  • Susan

    There’s this stuff called Ulcer Ease. Most pharmacies carry it. It numbs the little buggers almost instantly, and it lasts for a couple of hours.

    After numbing it, those Canker covers don’t hurt so bad.

  • Vicky

    My grandmother always used powdered alum (in the spice aisle in the grocery store – used for pickling). Sounds strange, I know, but I’ve had canker sores my whole life, especially if I scrape my mouth by mistake and it works.

    Place a small amount in your palm, add a few drops of water to make a paste and rub into the sore. Apply the paste in the am and before bedtime. A third time during the day is helpful it you can. Stings a bit, tastes worse, but it kills the soreness overnight and clears up the sore in 2-3 days. You have my word on it!

  • Lisa

    Milk of Magnesia. Take a small amount on your finger or a Q-tip and rub it on the sore. Do not rinse it out of your mouth. I do this just before bedtime to allow the Milk of Magnesia opportunity to work while I sleep. Many times, my sore will be gone by morning.

  • Kathy

    Cancer sores can be a sign of celiac disease/gluten sensitivity. I wanted to share my favorite remedy: Get some chewable vitamin C, the kind that’s shaped in a large flat disk. Put it over the sore & leave it there until it completely disolves. It will burn a little at first, but then it creates a protective coating. You can do this several times a day until the sore is gone.

  • Alexis

    OUCH!! i have a very painful canker sore 🙁 it is the second one within a month and it’s in the same spot. Ouch i am using medicene but it just numbs it for 5 minutes 🙁

  • meg

    i have a question my sore poped couple days ago but just turned white today does that mean its heaking ? it hurts like HELL

  • Shawna

    I have tried Vinegar, I have tried Salt wash, and I have tried Hydrogen Peroxide. None of those work. I have found the best to work is putting table salt on them. Salt works to help pull the water out. Salt works just like when your cooking with it. It draws the moisture out of the food. This will hurt for several moments but I do it several times at first the pain will go away and it will also reduce the sore too.

  • waldo

    bare with it. they will go away on their own. thats the most natural thing you can do. all this cutting and soaking and meds are only going to prolong the healing process and possibly scar the inside of your mouth. ambasol is probably the best thing as it is made for numbing. other than that, get a check for cancer as it can be related. better safe than sorry.

  • dakota

    just got 1 omg it hurts soooooo bad

  • lexieloo

    ok guys ive been looking at websites for canker sores for hours and none have said anything about cankersores that are in the crease of your bottom lip and gums, and its right in the center by the thing that “connects” the lip to the jaw. it hurts like heck and i cant eat or talk. ive been on a jello and yogurt fast for about 5 days because it hurts so bad. ive tryed every thing and nothing works. no its not herpies!
    Heres a list ive gathered from various websites:
    (i only believe in the home remedies not the stuff you buy in the store)
    ~mouth wash
    ~vitamin b12
    ~vitamin C
    ~saline solutiion\ contact solution
    hope it helps!

  • lexieloo

    oh yeah and baking soda and aloe juice!

  • Lolo

    got braces 2 days ago, and my brackets and extra wire is poking and scraping the inside of my mouth. the orthodontist gave me wax, and it was helping alot, but i lost my wax last night!!! and my orthodontist isnt open until monday, and i probably wont be able to stop by, becuz i have school!!! can anyone help me? like does anyone have a substitute for wax? like a homeremidy? please tell!!

  • Ellen

    I have found a product called Zilactin-L. The “L” is for lysine. This product has reduced the longevity of canker sores in my mouth to only about 2 days, rather than over a week. It is not a prescription drug but does need to be ordered from a pharmacy.
    I am going to try taking a lysine supplement to see if that helps, too.

  • Geetika

    I got VERY bad canker sores 2 days ago. They’re below my tongue and a HUGE one on my lip. (the one’s under my tongues are like many small ulcers)and they hurt like CRAZY.I rinsed my mouth with alum water but still not helping. I dont now what to do! Please help me asap I cant eat OR talk and its burning continuously!

  • Babygirl

    The only thing that really helped me was baking soda and water….. take one or two tablespoons of bakingsoda and three tablesppons of water and make a paste and apply it to the sore..it will sting a little bit but then that goes away and do this five times a day for two days and it will be gone!!!

  • filkina

    I used a bobby pin and just scraped out the white park of the canker sore. It hurt a little bit, but now that it’s out it doesn’t hurt at all!!

  • Trudy Adamson

    Can canker sore be caused by oral sex

  • NIck

    b4 u go 2 sleep make sure the ulcer is covered in the (natural) white covering, when u wake up it will either be all healed or alot smaller

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  • J

    I randomly just got a canker sore , it hurts … I had It for 2 days .. How do I get rid of the pain?

  • Jacob

    @Jan, the second commenter: Do some research about Behcet’s Disease. My wife has it, and it sounds like you might as well. While there’s no cure, Colchicine (gout medication) helps with these SPECIFIC types of canker sores.

    Other tips for general canker sores: Break open an aloe pill. Or viscus lidocaine (Rx).

  • Joan

    I used to suffer from them constantly as a child, I was a very stressed kid. I just got one again a few days ago. I tried canker x. It’ s totally useless. It’s not thick enough and is gone in seconds. I used to have a thick paste as a child but I don’t know what it was called and they don’t sell it anymore, ( maybe it was poisoness) my husband brought home something recommended by the pharmacist tonight called: oral medic barrier solution . It looks like a Q-tip but has liquid in it that you apply to the sore. It hurt like hell because it burned it off! I have no pain anymore at all! You can suffer with the pain continuously or suffer for 5 seconds. I’ll take the 5 seconds!

  • Kim

    Try rinsing with sauerkraut juice. It burns at first but heals the sore almost immediately. I get these little buggers all the time and it’s the only thing that works for me.

  • noj

    alum works.

  • noj oayadnil

    hydrogen peroxide also but i hate its aftertaste!

  • George

    Two tablespoons of Milk of Magnesia, available at the pharmacy without prescription, in the morning, and two talbespoons at night.

  • Cindy

    I just made a mix, pinch of turmeric, pinch of sage, pinch of salt, pinch of b. soda, it burnt like no other, but I have that bad boy on the run.

  • amber

    Baking soda and water. Mix it to a paste and dab on the sore. Its a bit painful but works wonders

  • Lisa

    hard candy. stick it right on the sore and keep it there till it melts and coats the sore. It always works for me. It takes the pain out and makes the sore go away much more quickly. Much more pleasant then salt or other burning remedies.

  • Marisa

    L-lysine–buy at CVS or Walgreens in vitamin section. 1000mg every 4 hrs. when you first get it. Then after that, 500 mg every 4 hrs. till it’s gone. It works.