A canker sore can appear anywhere inside the mouth, usually on the tongue, inner cheeks and lips, throat and tonsils. Habits such as chewing on the inner surfaces of the cheek and eating a lot of acidic foods are the primary causes of canker sores. Stress and underlying health conditions can also cause or exacerbate a canker sore.
A canker sore may often appear singly. In other cases, they appear in clusters and require medical attention to identify their root cause. It is important to note that canker sores are not contagious. They also should not be confused with cold sores. They occur inside the mouth, not on the eye or on the face.
Although canker sores in general are irritating and uncomfortable, a canker sore on the tongue is widely regarded as the worst. This is because the tongue is involved in a lot of tasks such as talking, eating, and tasting. Depending on which part of the mouth a canker sore appears on, a different canker sore treatment method will be recommended.
What causes canker sores on or under the tongue?
The causes of a canker sore on the tongue are similar to the general causes of canker sores. They include:
- Spices, citrus fruits or too much salt in the food can cause irritations to the mouth and ultimately lead to a canker sore.
- Some defects in the genes which get passed from parents to kids are sometimes credited with causing canker sores.
- Abrupt changes occurring in hormone levels will also contribute to the occurrence of the sores. This is especially so if the changes are accompanied by elevated stress levels.
- Physical injuries sustained on the tongue will also likely cause a canker sore on the tongue. Such injuries can arise from biting your tongue when eating, badly fitted dentures and so on.
- Insufficiency in vitamins such as vitamin B12 and C as well as iron, zinc and folic acid have also been noted to contribute to canker sores outbreaks.
- Poor dental care services such as brushing your teeth with foamy tooth paste, failing to brush your teeth or using a hard brush are potential causes.
Common symptoms of a canker sore on the tongue mainly start with a bump or spot on or under the tongue. Minor sores measuring less than ½ an inch in size can occur, which will generally heal on their own after about two weeks.
Major canker sores can also occur, in which case you will probably need medical attention. In this case, the sores may be large, painful and show little signs of healing on their own. Many other small sores can also occur around the initial one, to form a kind of a cluster. The good thing with visiting a clinic is that you may also be advised on how to remove skin tags and other skin disorders if the need should arise.
Diagnosing a canker sore in the throat with images and pictures
A swelling occurring on the throat or tonsil is generally thought to be a swollen lymph gland. However, lymph glands only swell when you are sick. Tonsils, on the other hand, can swell during a cold or a fever.
What you might be experiencing is a canker sore in the throat. As it happens, canker sores can attack any part of the inner mouth including the tonsils.
To tell the difference between a swollen lymph gland and a canker sore on the tonsils, you will need a mirror and some reference images of a canker sore in the throat. Such pictures can be accessed online for free. With your mirror, aim to identify the actual shape and appearance of the potential canker sore. If it is a canker sore, it should be a tiny ulcer with a whitish or yellow coloration. Large canker sores have irregular borders which can be red in color.
A canker sore in the throat is likely to have been caused by a certain food or drink product. It may feel more like a sore throat, which is why you may need to use a mirror to identify the actual problem.
Canker sores are identifiable since they occur in form of lesions, either a single one or in crowded groups. Other symptoms include:
- a burning effect that lasts a day prior to the appearance of the sores
- round or oval shaped sores on your throat
- the absence of fever or sore lymph glands along with pain, meaning that you are not under a cold or flu attack
- If the attack is severe, you will notice a sluggish feeling, sore lymph nodes, fever and sudden loss of weight.
How to treat a canker sore in the mouth
A canker sore in the mouth will generally disappear on its own. Minor canker sores usually take 2 weeks or less to heal. Major ones may persist for longer. When they occur in the mouth, canker sores can be very discomforting. The following treatment options are available:
Food products such as yogurt can ease the pain caused by a canker sore in mouth and also hasten the healing process. Cold drinks such as ice water will lessen the pain and reduce the inflammation. For canker sores resulting from vitamin deficiencies, you can take B12 and a zinc supplement. You can also use remedies such as a baking soda and water solution. Salt water has been observed to be effective. However, it can irritate the sore if used frequently.
Remedies such as hydrogen peroxide can be effective but not for a canker sore on the tonsils or throat. This is because swallowing such a solution can cause health consequences. This also applies to milk of magnesia and alum solutions. Some of these solutions can be used with other skin infections such as plantar wart treatment.
OTC medications containing benzocaine provide a numbing effect which can ease the pain and discomfort produced by the sores. This compound is also present in some mouth rinses to treat canker sores in the mouth. Consult your doctor for more details on how to use a particular OTC medication to treat large and painful canker sores in the mouth. In fact, these days, you can get online doctor services or a tutorial video on how to treat the sores.
The difference between a canker sore on the lip and oral herpes on the face
It is easy to confuse a canker sore on lip and oral herpes. A razor bump will rarely be confused with the two. We will therefore focus on the former two variations of skin lesions. Here are the main differences:
A canker sore on the lip will form on the inside surfaces of the lip. It is a fleshy, round/oval, yellowish or whitish sore. Sometimes, a red border will form around the sore. You will find them on loosely attached parts of the mouth such as under the tongue and on the inside of cheeks and lips.
Oral herpes lesions tend to be found on firm mouth tissues. These are tissues that are deeply rooted to the bone structure below them. Such tissues include the palate and the gingiva.
Canker sores on lips will most of the times appear singly. Major canker sores will however come in groups of sores, measuring about 1/3 of an inch. Even when in clusters, they always have a defined red colored border.
Herpes lesions always appear in groups. With time, they will burst to produce smooth, tiny bristles. You may not notice this transformation however. Ultimately, the lesions will combine to form a large blister.
Canker sores in the mouth will rarely cause severe symptoms. In fact, rather than discomfort when eating or swallowing, they can pass unnoticed.
With oral herpes, it is much different. Patients will experience symptoms such as fever, body weakness, pain in the joints and swollen lymph nodes.
Getting medical attention for the treatment of canker sores is important but not necessary if the sores are mild. In fact, you can treat and prevent them effectively at home. You may also be interested in learning more on how to remove anal skin tags and the plantar wart duct tape treatment method.