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What Causes Herpetiform Canker Sores

What Causes Herpetiform Canker Sores

If you've ever experienced the agony of a canker sore, you know just how painful and uncomfortable it can be. These small ulcers in your mouth can make eating, talking, and even smiling a challenge. But what causes canker sores, and how can you get rid of them? Let's explore this topic in-depth, using some fascinating terminology that you might not have heard before.

The Basics of Canker Sores

First, let's define what we mean when we talk about canker sores. Also known as aphthous ulcers, these small, shallow lesions occur inside your mouth on your tongue, gums, lips, or cheeks. They are usually round or oval, with a white or gray center and a red border. Canker sores are not contagious and are not caused by viruses or bacteria like cold sores.

Now, let's move on to the main question at hand: what causes canker sores?

Possible Causes of Canker Sores

The exact causes of canker sores are not fully understood, but there are several factors that may contribute to their development, such as:

  • Stress and anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to canker sores.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: A lack of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, zinc, or iron, can also make you more prone to canker sores.
  • Mouth trauma: Accidentally biting your cheek, using a toothbrush with hard bristles, or experiencing other types of mouth trauma can cause canker sores to form.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities: Certain foods, such as citrus fruits, nuts, chocolate, or spicy foods, can trigger canker sores in some people.
  • Hormonal changes: Women may be more likely to develop canker sores during certain times of their menstrual cycle.
  • Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing canker sores.

Understanding what may be causing your canker sores can help you find the best way to prevent or treat them.

Treatments for Canker Sores

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for canker sores, as each case is unique. However, there are several remedies and treatments you can try to alleviate the pain and discomfort of canker sores, such as:

  • Over-the-counter medications: You can try using topical medications containing benzocaine, which can help numb the area and reduce pain. Mouthwashes containing hydrogen peroxide or salt can also help promote healing.
  • Natural remedies: Certain herbs and natural remedies, such as aloe vera, chamomile, and sage, may have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can help heal canker sores.
  • Dietary changes: Avoiding trigger foods and focusing on a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help prevent canker sores from forming.
  • Stress management: Practicing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises may help prevent canker sores caused by emotional stress.

It's important to note that if your canker sores persist for more than two weeks, or if you experience fever, swelling, or other symptoms, you should consult with your healthcare provider to rule out more serious underlying conditions.


In conclusion, canker sores can be a frustrating and painful condition to deal with. While their exact causes are not fully understood, there are several factors that may contribute to their development. By understanding what may be causing your canker sores, you can take proactive steps to prevent and treat them. Whether you choose to use over-the-counter medications, natural remedies, or make lifestyle changes like stress management or dietary modifications, there are many options available to help ease the symptoms of canker sores and promote healing.

Canker sores

Image source: SmartMouth

Canker sore symptoms

Image source: Dr. Axe