It may only be the size of a pencil eraser, but a canker sore can be hard to ignore. You know it's there, and it hurts whenever you eat or drink.
Fortunately, a canker sore is usually a fairly short-lived misery, and there are a few home remedies you can employ to find some temporary relief.
First, however, you need to be able to tell the difference between a canker sore and a cold sore, or fever blister, which is caused by the herpes virus. A cold sore often begins as several tiny blisters that eventually form one larger sore. They appear most often on the lips and face.
In contrast, canker sores usually travel alone. And unlike a sore caused by the herpes virus, a canker sore is not contagious. A canker sore has a yellow or white-gray center with a well-defined red border. It generally measures three to five millimeters in diameter and is usually located on the inside of the lip or cheek or, less commonly, on the tongue. They hurt like the dickens, but usually they're not serious. The most painful phase lasts about three to four days, and the sores go away in about ten days.
(Note: Any white spot in your mouth that persists longer than ten days should be checked by your dentist or doctors, as it may indicate a serious medical condition.)
What causes canker sores? No one knows for sure, though they frequently afflict people who are fatigued or stressed out or who have poor diets. Not surprisingly, canker sores often crop up in the mouths of students taking final exams. Medical evidence also suggests that people taking certain drugs for rheumatoid arthritis may be more prone to developing cankers. And heredity is a factor, too. If both your parents were canker sore sufferers, there's a 90 percent chance you will be, too. Cankers may also occur as a result of a minor injury in the mouth, such as from a slip of the toothbrush or a jab from a taco shell. Certain foods, such as spicy dishes and citrus fruits, have also taken some of the blame.
About 20 percent of the population get canker sores occasionally, and women are more likely than men to suffer from them. Some women tend to get them at certain times of their menstrual cycle. Some people are predisposed to getting canker sores over and over.
Read on for home remedies that can provide relief so you don't have to be cranky from canker sores.
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