Aphthous Stomatitis

Also known as: canker sores, aphthous ulcers.

What is aphthous stomatitis?

Aphthous (from the Greek word meaning ulcer) stomatitis is a common illness that causes small painful ulcers in the mouth, hard palate, inner cheek, lips or tongue.

What causes aphthous stomatitis?

While the exact cause is not completely understood, it appears to involve an immune system mediated inflammatory response causing ulcers triggered by a number of different factors including stress, allergies, viruses, local mouth trauma, changes in hormone levels, nutrition, medications or a genetic predisposition. They are not contagious and ulcers may come and go for many years.

What are the signs/symptoms of aphthous stomatitis?

Ulcers are usually 2mm-5mm in diameter, have a yellow covering on a red base and last 7-10/14 days. Pain may be minor to so severe that they interfere with eating or drinking.

What are aphthous stomatitis care options?

There is no specific treatment for apthous ulcers (as they are not caused by a bacterial or viral infection). Treatment goals include ensuring adequate fluid intake, pain medications (oral, topical and mouth rinses) to reduce pain, and good mouth hygiene.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: October 03, 2019 03:23 PM