Causes of Stomatitis: Canker Sores and Cold Sores continued...
Canker sores may result from a genetic predisposition and are considered an autoimmune disease; they are not contagious.
About 20% people in the U.S. will have canker sores at some point during their lifetime -- women more often than men.
Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex type 1. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are contagious from the time the blister ruptures to the time it has completely healed. The initial infection often occurs before adulthood and may be confused with a cold or the flu. Once the person is infected with the virus, it stays in the body, becoming dormant and reactivated by such conditions as stress, fever, trauma, hormonal changes (such as menstruation), and exposure to sunlight.
When sores reappear, they tend to form in the same location. In addition to spreading to other people, the virus can also spread to another body part of the affected person, such as the eyes or genitals.
Treatment for Common Forms of Stomatitis
Mouth sores generally don't last longer than two weeks, even without treatment. If a cause can be identified, your doctor may be able to treat it. If a cause cannot be identified, the focus of treatment shifts to symptom relief.
The following strategies might help to ease the pain and inflammation of mouth sores:
- Avoid hot beverages and foods as well as salty, spicy, and citrus-based foods.
- Use pain relievers like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
- Gargle with cool water or suck on ice pops if you have a mouth burn.
For canker sores, the aim of treatment is to relieve discomfort and guard against infection. Try the following:
- Drink more water.
- Rinse with salt water.
- Practice proper dental care.
- Apply a topical anesthetic such as lidocaine or xylocaine to the ulcer (not recommended for children under 6).
- Use a topical corticosteroid preparation such as triamcinolone dental paste (Kenalog in Orabase 0.1%), which protects a sore inside the lip and on the gums.
- Blistex and Campho-Phenique may offer some relief of canker sores and cold sores, especially if applied when the sore first appears.