How to get rid of a canker sore without going to the doctor

how to get rid of canker sores
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman


Aphthous ulcers, also known as canker sores, are painful lesions that can develop inside the mouth, cheeks, lips, or tongue. These lesions are small and can be persistent. Although these ulcers and sores are not contagious, they can be very uncomfortable and make it difficult to eat and speak.

This blog covers prescription medications and effective home remedies tips to help you get rid of the pain and promote the healing of a canker sore without the need to see a doctor in person.

Why do I have canker sores?

Aphthous ulcers, or canker sores, can have many different causes. Some common reasons for developing canker sores include:

  1. Stress

Stress is often linked to canker sores. High stress levels, especially during exams or significant life events, may contribute to the occurrence of these sores.

  1. Genetics

Canker sores can run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition to developing these oral ulcers. You may need medication for this type of mouth ulcer.

  1. Minor injuries

Canker sores can develop on relatively small oral injuries caused by excessive brushing, sports injuries, or biting someone’s lip. Depending on the type of mouth injury, this type of canker sore can last a long time. If such is the case, you should discuss getting rid of canker sores with a doctor sooner.

  1. Tissue irritation

Tissue injury from sharp teeth, dental appliances, or harsh brushing can lead to the formation of canker sores. You can wait for canker sores to heal on their own, but if they persist for more than a week, you should discuss them with your doctor.

  1. Food sensitivities

Some foods, such as tomatoes, strawberries, citrus fruits, and spicy or acidic foods, can irritate the mouth and cause canker sores. These canker sores eventually disappear if you stop eating the food that triggers them. However, you may need a doctor’s advice to identify the cause of canker sores.

  1. Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes, especially in women during specific times in their menstrual cycle, may increase the likelihood of getting canker sores. To treat canker sores, it is important to determine their cause. Your doctor can assist you with this.

  1. Nutritional deficiencies

Canker sores can also develop when vital nutrients such as iron, folic acid, zinc, or vitamin B12 are lacking. To get rid of canker sores, you must overcome your nutrient deficiency..

  1. Immune system issues

Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, Behcet’s disease, or gastrointestinal diseases like celiac or Crohn’s disease, may be associated with recurrent canker sores.

If you are worried about canker sores root cause and require treatment, Get an online consultation immediately.

How can you get rid of canker sores without going to the doctor?

Getting rid of canker sores without going to the doctor is easy. You can use various home remedies for that, but you should see a doctor if your condition persists. 

You can easily use a credible telehealth service like Your Doctors Online from your home to discuss your condition and get medication. A qualified professional can help you determine the root cause of canker sores and prescribe the appropriate treatment tailored to your needs.

What are the medications for aphthous ulcers? 

“Oral medications such as mouthwashes, gels, or creams containing anti-inflammatory or painkillers can relieve the symptoms. Additional therapies, such as laser therapy or anti-inflammatory medication, should only be considered in extreme circumstances,”

says Dr. Mandy Liedeman

The aphthous ulcer medication or canker sore treatment involves the following medications.

  1. Topical Corticosteroids 

These are the main treatments for recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS). Examples include hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, fluocinolone, fluocinonide, and clobetasol. They help reduce symptoms like pain and inflammation.

  1. Oral Rinses

Certain oral rinses, like chlorhexidine gluconate mouth rinses, can reduce the severity and pain of ulceration associated with aphthous ulcers.

  1. Mucoadhesive Agents

Products like Gelclair, which contain ingredients such as water, maltodextrin, propylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate, and others, adhere to the mucosal surface of the mouth and provide a protective coating that shields exposed nerve endings.

If you are not sure about which treatment might be effective, you can get a quick online consultation from our doctor
  1. Systemic Medications 

Systemic medications may be considered in severe cases or when topical treatments are ineffective. These include colchicine, pentoxifylline, prednisolone, and immunosuppressive agents like azathioprine or methotrexate. This depends on the condition that you are diagnosed with.

  1. Antibacterial Mouthwashes

Antibacterial mouthwashes can help reduce the risk of secondary infections in aphthous ulcers.

  1. Calcineurin Inhibitors

Topical medications like pimecrolimus or tacrolimus may sometimes be used to manage aphthous ulcers.

  1. Dietary Supplements 

In cases where nutritional deficiencies are identified, dietary supplements of vitamins or minerals like vitamin B or iron may be recommended to support healing and overall health.

What are the home remedies for canker sore treatment?

To get rid of canker sores without visiting a doctor, you can try the following home remedies:

  1. Honey

You can dab a little honey on the canker sore. Try using honey, which has natural antibacterial qualities to ease pain and speed up healing.

  1. Coconut Oil

Apply coconut oil to the sore multiple times a day. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can help prevent the further spread of bacteria and reduce inflammation around the sore.

  1. Avoid Irritants

Avoid foods irritating the sore, such as nuts, chips, pretzels, and acidic fruits like pineapple and grapefruit. Canker sores can also be prevented by reducing stress and maintaining good dental hygiene.

  1. Saltwater Rinse

Combine one teaspoon of salt with one glass of warm water; gargle with the mixture for thirty seconds; then expel the salt water. Repeat this daily to help dry out canker sores and promote healing.

  1. Baking Soda Rinse 

Mix baking soda with water to create a rinse.. After 20 to 30 seconds of swirling, spit out the solution. If you are experiencing swelling in your mouth, this may help bring the pH level back into balance.

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide

Rinse your mouth with three percent hydrogen peroxide and two parts water. This can help minimize mouth bacteria and clean the sore.

How long do canker sores typically last?

Canker sores typically last between 7 to 14 days. The duration of a canker sore can vary depending on its type. Mild canker sores, the most common type, last 7 to 14 days and usually heal without scarring. 

Large canker sores can irritate the mucous membrane for weeks, cause pain for even longer periods of time, and eventually scar the skin. Herpetiform canker sores, a less common type, can last 10 to 14 days and typically heal without scarring.

If you are not sure about which home remedies or treatment might be effective, you can get an online consultation right away!

When should I see a doctor?

You should see a doctor for canker sores if a canker sore or mouth ulcer worsens after a week of home care or if you experience several episodes of canker sores per year. Fever, diarrhea, headache, or skin rash are symptoms that can occur alongside canker sores; if you experience any of these, you should consult a doctor. Seeking medical advice is important to ensure proper evaluation and appropriate treatment if the canker sore persists, worsens, or is accompanied by concerning symptoms.

Faqs about canker sore treatment

Does putting salt on a canker sore help?

Some people find that applying salt directly to canker sores is a painful and unpleasant way to treat them. Instead of experiencing the intense burning that may come from directly applying salt to the canker sore, you can eliminate inflammation and speed up the healing process by diluting salt with water and gently swishing it in your mouth.

What is the best treatment for a canker sore on the tongue?

Avoiding irritants like spicy foods, rinsing with salt water to reduce swelling, applying topical medications like benzocaine or Triamcinolone Acetonide dental paste, trying prescription medications if necessary, and using home remedies like ice or Milk of Magnesia are the best ways to treat a canker sore on the tongue. For further evaluation and possible prescription treatments to promote healing and effectively alleviate discomfort, it is recommended to seek professional medical advice if the sore persists or worsens.

Can kids get canker sores?

Canker sores can indeed affect children. Little ulcers in the mouth called canker sores can be quite painful. Children may develop canker sores due to stress, poor nutrition, or oral injuries.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Sores, What Causes Canker. “Canker Sores.” (2008).
  • Sores, What Are Canker. “How To Get Rid Of Canker Sores Without Medicine.”
  • Sanke, Sarita. “10 Quick Home Remedies for Canker Sores.”
  • Rudolph, Dustin. “The Battle Against Canker Sores.”

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