Why Do You Get Canker Sores?

Have you ever had a canker sore that seems to never go away? Yeah, me neither until a couple of weeks ago. Normally I get one or two canker sores a year-usually after Halloween and Easter (probably the candy, TBH). Why do you get canker sores anyway?

Why Do You Get Canker Sores?

After an incredibly stressful May, I landed myself the monster of all canker sores-it caused my cheek and jaw to swell, and could not be tamed. Normally I am able to swish with saltwater…but, not this time. This canker sore did not want to go away.

And it was painful – like wake me up at 2 am painful.

And this wasn’t the first one! I had another canker sore at the beginning of May. And I haven’t been consuming a lot of candy.

Which had me wondering…why do you get canker sores? So of course, I started diving into some research (this thing hurt, y’all!).

Why Do You Get Canker Sores?

Why Do You Get Canker Sores?

Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that form in your mouth. And they are different from cold sores.

Most of the time canker sores will not require treatment and will heal on their own.

Except when they last forever. I actually discovered that it can take up to 3 weeks for particularly large ulcers to heal. Not cool, body!

Frequent canker sores are usually an indicator of an underlying condition.

What is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores are small lesions or ulcers inside the mouth. Unlike cold sores, they are not contagious, though a predisposition to canker sores may be inherited.

More women are affected by canker sores than men. Canker sores can appear inside the cheeks, on or under the tongue, inside the lining of your lips and throat.

Canker sores are usually white, yellow, or gray in color with a red border.

They are usually quite painful.

If you experience a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or thrush you need to contact your doctor as those could be signs of infection.

Why do You Get Canker Sores?

There are a lot of things that can trigger canker sores, but the most common causes are:

  • Acidic foods (fruits, chocolate, coffee)
  • High levels of stress
  • Food sensitivities
  • Lack of sleep
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency (specifically zinc, B12, folate, and iron)

Which is the story of my life.

How Long do Canker Sores Take to Heal?

That depends. For small lesions, they can heal in as little as 24 hours. For larger lesions, they can last months and even leave a scar when they’re gone.

I can’t say that I’ve ever had a large lesion before, but I suspect that my last one was a doozy. Small sores are generally painful but they do not cause swelling to the extent that I experienced.

And while it’s not nearly as painful now, I’m still being very careful to watch what I put in my body.

Everything I read said that canker sores should heal on their own, but if you have a sore that lasts longer than a week you should contact your doctor to see if you need to go in.

How to Get Rid of Canker Sores Naturally

Ways to heal canker sores naturally - Why Do You Get Canker Sores?

Honestly, I’m not sure that you can “get rid” of them…but you can certainly encourage them to heal and alleviate the pain associated with them for a little bit.

Suck on Ice Chips

Canker sores are painful, yo. I like to get a cup of crushed ice to suck on to help numb the pain. Plus, water helps to keep you hydrated.

Don’t Aggravate It

This means avoiding foods that are high in acidity or could cause irritation. To be safe, avoid citrus fruits, salsa, hot sauce, and the like until you’re sure that your canker sore is gone.

Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

It’s just plain bad for you. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a detergent and surfactant found in many personal care products that cause them to bubble and foam.

And it can make your canker sore worse. I really, really love my Thieves Aroma bright toothpaste if you need a good SLS-free option.

Use Natural Rinses

You can gargle with salt water, deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or even goldenseal dissolved in warm water a few times a day to promote healing.

Take Supplements

Sucking on zinc lozenges may promote healing (and help to balance your deficiency). Additionally, taking Vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and lysine may help speed healing.

Echinacea may also help to speed healing.

Avoid Eating Junk

Until your canker sore is healed, it’s best to avoid foods that aren’t considered clean…even if that means avoiding alcohol, candy, or cake for a bit. Check out 4 healthy habits everyone should do on how to keep our bodies healthier.

Once you’ve successfully healed your canker sore, you’ll want to be mindful of your diet and watch for signs that you may be developing another lesion.

How do you deal with canker sores?


1 Comment

  1. Alice B on October 12, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    I have just learned about a new thing to add to the canker sore relief arsenal. Thyme (yes, the herb) tea. I get horrendous canker sores too. It seemed to shorten the duration of the last batch of 4 that I had.

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