Mouth ulcers are open sores located inside the mouth. Ulcers develop for a number of reasons, and can cause additional infections or inflammation. Mouth ulcers are fairly common, and can cause a great deal of pain. Some ulcers can be hidden inside the mouth where no one is able to notice them, whereas others are more obvious and embarrassing. Despite the embarrassment and pain, mouth ulcers are simple to treat and get rid of.
It doesn't take much to determine whether or not you have a mouth ulcer. The more challenging part is determining what type of ulcer you have. This is sometimes easy to ascertain, especially if you have suffered an injury of some sort. Mouth ulcers develop at the lining of the mouth, and look like pale, open sores, or holes.
The most common cause of a mouth ulcer is an injury to the mouth, such as biting your lip or scrubbing too hard with a toothbrush and having is scratch your lip. Other causes include stress, illness, smoking, vitamin deficiencies, sudden weight loss, food allergies and the Herpes simplex virus. The latter is the most common cause of viral mouth ulcers. Tuberculosis can cause bacterial mouth ulcers to form, and valley fever is among the fungal causes of mouth ulcers. Viral, bacterial and fungal mouth ulcers are also known as pathogenic oral ulcers, and are caused by touching an open sore or scratch on your lips (such as occurs with chapped lips) without first washing your hands. Mouth ulcers caused by issues with your immune system or vitamin deficiency are called aphthous ulcers. It is believed that the body causes these ulcers when fighting off unknown chemicals. Mouth ulcers of this type can occur repeatedly if your immune-system issues are not addressed or corrected. Allergies that can cause mouth ulcers occur when that allergen touches the mouth and causes a reaction to the skin. There are also medical conditions that cause mouth ulcers to form, including Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease and gingivostomatitis.
Mouth ulcers can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The time frame depends on the type and cause of the ulcer. Rarely will a mouth ulcer be cancerous, but it can happen. Cancerous ulcers do not heal over time, whereas others will begin to heal over a period of days. Continuous exposure to the cause of the mouth ulcer (such as continuing to eat something you are allergic to) will delay healing, and may make symptoms worse.
Depending on the cause of the mouth ulcer, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent more of them from forming in the future. Avoiding known allergens that cause ulcers is important, as is being careful not to bite or otherwise cause trauma to your lips. Make sure you are taking an adequate amount of vitamins daily, to eliminate any deficiencies you may have. Using topical antihistamines, antacids or corticosteroids helps to soothe painful ulcers. If it seems as if the ulcer is not going away, or it remains present longer than 3 weeks, see your physician.
To prevent further damage or injury to your mouth ulcer, stay away from spicy foods for the duration of the ulcer. Washing your mouth and the affected area with antibacterial mouthwash for 1 minute, twice a day for 2 days will keep bacteria out of the open ulcer. To avoid damaging to your sense of taste, flush the area using a small tube. Keeping certain mouthwashes in your mouth for a minute or longer is not advisable.
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