Have you ever noticed an unsightly and painful yellow lesion in your mouth accompanied by a red border? That tender spot is known as a canker sore.
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are surface lacerations that form on your mouth’s soft tissue or the base of your gums and can cause painful discomfort while eating or drinking. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not infectious and do not show up on your lips. They are, however, incredibly common and can cause significant discomfort.
They sometimes appear after eating something rich in vitamin C, such as orange juice or an orange. Canker sores are terribly painful when you eat salty foods such as mustard or ketchup. They can ruin the taste of a delicious burger or hot dog no matter how well they have been barbecued.
These raw ulcers can surface on your cheeks, gums, tongue or soft palate, and make it difficult to eat, drink, or talk. Even though they do not require any special treatment, sometimes canker sores may take unusually long to heal. In such cases, it is advisable to check with your doctor or dentist for further investigation and tests.
Symptoms of Canker Sores
In most cases, canker sores are white or yellow oval-shaped lesions with a red border. A day or two before the sores appear, you may experience an itching or burning sensation in the same spot. There are a few different types of canker sores, classified on the basis of their severity. Let’s take a look at them.
Minor canker sores: These are the most common type of canker sores. The minor type is normally oval-shaped, small, and is surrounded by a red border. It takes about one or two weeks to heal and does not leave a scar behind.
Major canker sores: They are relatively uncommon and are bigger than minor sores. Major canker sores are usually round in shape with clear boundaries. However, when they are very large, they can have uneven edges. They can be very painful and may take more than a month to heal completely, sometimes even leaving a scar behind.
Herpetiform canker sores: These uncommon canker sores develop much later in life. Unlike cold sores, they are not caused by the herpes virus. They are an isolated group of 10-100 sores that fuse together to form one large ulcer. They take about two weeks to heal without scarring.
When to See a Doctor
You should consider seeing a doctor if you notice any of these issues:
- Your canker sores are uncharacteristically big
- You experience recurring outbreaks and the new one pops up even before the old ones heal
- The sores take longer than two weeks to heal
- Overpowering pain that cannot be controlled with self-care
- Disruption of normal life functions such as eating, talking and drinking
- Canker sores followed by a high fever