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How to Get Rid of Canker Sores: 10 Proven Home Remedies

Cliff is a licensed medical technologist who loves sharing all things health and fitness.

Canker sores are definitely small but terrible!

Canker sores are definitely small but terrible!

What Is a Canker Sore?

Whether you’re a teenager or an adult, you’ve probably had a canker sore at some point in your life. Canker sores are those small, white wounds that occur inside the cheek, on the tongue, or at the base of the gums. A canker sore in the throat may also develop, making it difficult to swallow. Also called aphthous stomatitis, they can be up to an inch in diameter, although most are much smaller.

These ulcers in the mouth come in two types:

1. Simple Canker Sores – These wounds usually appear up to four times a year. People ages 10 to 20 are most affected.

2. Complex Canker Sores – These aren’t as common, but cause a greater deal of discomfort and last longer. People who develop these wounds have usually had them in the past.

Canker Sore Vs. Cold Sore

It is important to note that canker sores are different from cold sores. Cold sores are contagious and usually occur because of a more serious complication. Canker sores, on the other hand, are not contagious and are seldom linked to health problems. To help you differentiate easily, cold sores occur outside the mouth, usually around the lips. Canker sores are always found inside the mouth.

Mouth ulcers are stubbornly persistent and annoying. They may be very small, but they are very painful. Before you learn how to get rid of canker sores, it is beneficial to understand what causes them.

What Causes Canker Sores?

Experts have yet to determine exactly what causes canker sores. However, there are a number of factors that are believed to contribute to their occurrence.

  • Toothpaste. Toothpastes often contain sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient that is said to dry the tissues of the mouth. This leads to the breaking down of the essential layer of protection inside the mouth, making the mouth more prone to bacteria and infections.
  • Allergy. Some people suffer from mouth ulcers after introducing a new item to their daily diet. In this case, it is likely that the food you eat contains an ingredient that triggers an allergic reaction. It is important to be cautious of the foods you eat and watch out for those you think caused the reaction.
  • Dietary Deficiencies. Not getting enough essential nutrients contributes to cases of canker sores. Vitamin B12, zinc, and iron are particularly suggested for those who suffer from the condition frequently.
  • Trauma. An injury to the tissue of the mouth also proves to be a major culprit. If you bit your cheek or if you have sharp teeth which damaged a part of your mouth, it is likely that an ulcer would appear after a day or so.
  • Stress. Stress is associated with a lot of health problems, including canker sores. In general, it is very helpful to rid yourself of stress and live a healthy life.

How Long Do Canker Sores Last?

There are telltale signs indicating that a canker sore may soon appear. First, you may experience a burning or tingling sensation in the affected area. Soon, there rises a small red bump. This bump usually bursts after a day, leaving a shallow white or yellowish wound characterized by a red border. These small wounds can cause a lot of pain, discomfort, and inconvenience. In most cases, canker sores last up to a week.

Home Remedies for Canker Sores

Most canker sores heal within a week, so many advise to just wait for them to go away. But there are some home remedies you can use to speed up the healing process. If you’re wondering what helps canker sore pain, be sure to check out the remedies below:

1. Homemade mouthwashes

If you want a tried and tested treatment for canker sores, hydrogen peroxide should definitely sit high on your list. Mix two ounces of hydrogen peroxide with two ounces of water. Rinse your mouth with this mixture at least four times a day. You can also use aloe juice as a mouthwash.

2. Baking soda

This kitchen staple is often used to get rid of acne, but baking soda for canker sores is another fantastic application. You can form a paste by mixing baking soda with water. Apply the paste directly to the sore. You can also use the hydrogen peroxide and water mixture mentioned above. Follow it with an application of milk of magnesia.

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3. Salt

Salt on canker sores is undoubtedly one of the most popular home remedies for mouth ulcers. Yes, this can hurt quite a bit upon your first application. But most people find it to be a very effective cure. Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt in a cup of warm water. Gargle with this solution as soon as you notice the first signs of a canker sore to prevent it from flaring up.

4. Acidophilus

Acidophilus is proven to be an effective treatment option. You can take it in capsule form or opt for foods that contain this ingredient such as yogurt. Take 2-4 capsules each day. This probiotic boosts the immune system, helping treat canker sores fast.

5. Honey

Honey is a natural ingredient known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. What you want to use is raw organic honey. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. Apply a generous dab of honey directly to the affected area. Re-apply two to three times a day. You may find that this soothes pain and discomfort.

6. Coconut Oil

Aside from having plenty of uses in the kitchen, coconut oil also serves as an excellent cure for these pesky ulcers. It works because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Use a cotton swab to apply a thick layer of coconut oil on top of the wound. If the oil seems to slide right off, you can apply a mixture of coconut oil and beeswax instead.

7. Sage

Any list of home remedies wouldn't be complete without a natural herb. For your particular condition, sage is a fantastic choice. Belonging to the mint family, sage has been used for several centuries to cleanse the mouth and treat a variety of oral disorders. Boil dried sage for 10 minutes and then swish it in your mouth for a minute.

8. Aloe Vera

If there's any plant known for its amazing healing properties, it's definitely aloe vera. Once again, aloe comes to the rescue by providing much-needed relief from the pain that comes with these tiny wounds. Be sure to pick a natural aloe vera gel. Mix a teaspoon of the gel with a tablespoon of water. Swish it over the wound up to three times a day.

9. Black tea bags

Experts recommend putting wet black tea bags directly on the sores. Black tea contains tannin, a substance known to alleviate pain. This can prove useful if the pain that comes with the wounds get too intense.

10. Copper sulfate

Copper sulfate has been used for centuries in alternative medicine, but today, it is hard to come by. Also called bluestone, it is said that it helps get rid of canker sores overnight. As always, however, consult a doctor first before using it to avoid any unwanted side effects.

Are Canker Sores Contagious?

Many people make the mistake of thinking that canker sores are contagious. Some even say that canker sores are contagious through kissing. The primary reason behind this misconception is the fact that mouth ulcers get confused for cold sores all the time. As mentioned earlier, the latter is contagious while the former isn't.

How to Prevent Canker Sores

Is it possible to prevent canker sores from occurring? The short answer is maybe. One rule of thumb is to keep your mouth clean. Make sure that your toothbrush is clean and replace it if it’s gotten old. Also, never brush the wound. Doing this will only worsen the problem. Use an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing your teeth to ensure that bacteria do not breed inside your mouth.

Take note of the most common causes mentioned above. Avoid using toothpastes with SLS. Eat a balanced diet and keep your daily nutritional needs in check. As much as you can, remove stress in your life. This will not only help you heal canker sores quickly but will also help promote your overall health.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


T.E.A.M. 4 Kids Pediatric Therapy Center on July 07, 2019:

This is SO good, Thank you for such a great post.

Roggger on February 07, 2019:

canker sore are very irritating one. I hope nobody should suffer from this disease.

Rogger11 on February 07, 2019:

Very nice and informative post that discus about mouth sores. Thanks lot for sharing such informative post. You can get full information relative to cancer sore can be found here:

lucy on November 26, 2017:

I have had cold sores all my life (I’m 47 now) and even had my whole bottom lip completely covered at the same time way back in high school. I have tried every cold sore treatment out there… over the counter as well as prescription. Now I ONLY use herbal treatment . If I catch it before it’s visible (the feeling you get when it’s coming on) then I can stop it from ever becoming visible! I apply my herbal medication several times a day, just a dab because what I use doesn’t even require a full drop. After doing this several times a day ( 1 1/2 days at the most) it’s gone. i did this treatment just for 14 days and now i'm totally cured from code sores. you can also get your herbal medication from Dr Arbert Otamidi or email him via

Cliff Mendrez (author) from Philippines on August 19, 2012:

There are treatments available for sores that develop in the throat. They often come in sprays and are usually available at drugstores.

Victim Of Sickness on August 19, 2012:

What about in my throat, Its like hell.

bag on May 03, 2012:

i hate them

Cliff Mendrez (author) from Philippines on February 11, 2012:

Hey billybuc. Hydrogen peroxide is perhaps the best remedy for canker sores. I hear a lot of people saying they find it effective. Thanks for reading.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 11, 2012:

You are right on with this hub! I had canker sores quite often when I was young and I am sure it was stress that caused them; now I only get them when I change toothpastes, which I have learned not to do. Hydrogen peroxide works every time for me. Nice job of accuracy!

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