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Aphthous ulcer is an ulcer that forms on mucous membranes. Also called canker sores, aphthous stomatitis and canker sores. Aphthae, also known as mouth sores, colloquially, is a common condition that can affect many people at some point in their lives.
These sores may appear in the soft tissues of your mouth, including your lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, floor and roof of your mouth. An aphthous ulcer is typically a recurring round or oval wound or ulcer in the mouth in an area where the skin is not firmly attached to the underlying bone, for example, inside the lips and cheeks or under the tongue. Aphthous ulcers can also affect the genital organs in men and women.
Mouth sores are usually minor irritation and only last for a week or two. In some cases, they may rarely indicate oral cancer or an infection from a virus such as herpes simplex.
What Causes Aphthous Ulcers?
The exact cause of the development of aphthous ulcer has not yet been clearly defined. About 40% of people who get aphthous ulcers have a family history of aphthous ulcers. The current thinking is that the immune system is disturbed by some external factors and reacts abnormally to a protein in mucosal tissue.
The factors that trigger ulcer outbreaks are:
- Emotional stress and lack of sleep
- Mechanical trauma, for example, self-opening bite
- Nutrient deficiency, especially B vitamins, iron and folic acid
- Some foods, including chocolate
- Some toothpastes; this may be related to sodium laureth sulfate (foam component of toothpaste)
- Certain medications, including nicotrandil, given for angina
- Viral infections
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
Recurrent aphthous ulcers usually begin as a round yellowish raised spot surrounded by a red halo. This then turns into a perforated ulcer covered by a loosely attached white, yellow, or grayish membrane. The ulcer can be painful, especially if it is irritated by moving or eating certain types of foods, such as citrus fruits.
Recurrent minor aphthous ulcers: Less than 5 mm in diameter and heal within 1-2 weeks.
Large aphthous ulcers: Usually greater than 10 mm, may take weeks or months to heal and may leave scars.
People may experience a single ulcer or multiple ulcers. Multiple ulcers tend to spread widely into a person's mouth.
What is the Treatment?
Recurrent minor aphthous ulcers heal within 1-2 weeks without treatment. The main goal of treatment is to reduce pain and discomfort and promote healing.
- Protective pastes that create a barrier over the ulcer to reduce exposure to irritants
- Superficial tissue cauterization using a silver nitrate stick
- Local anesthetics benzocaine and lignocaine to reduce pain
- Medicated toothpaste without sodium laureth sulfate
- Antibacterial mouthwashes to reduce secondary infection
- Avoiding foods that trigger or increase ulcers
- Supplement with vitamins or minerals
- Avoiding stressful situations