What is Canker Sore? Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

Having canker sores once in a while is normal for many people. It usually occurs when you are stressed or after eating spicy foods. However, if you have a canker sore that does not go away or keeps coming back again and again, it could be an indicator of something more serious going on in your body.

Canker sores are red and painful ulcers that appear inside your mouth, especially on the soft palate, tongue, gums, and inside of your cheeks. They also hurt to eat or drink anything acidic. Keep reading to know more about this condition and what you can do to prevent it.

What is a Canker Sore?

A canker sore is a form of ulcer that usually appears inside your mouth, both on the soft palate, tongue, gums, and inside of your cheeks. They are red and painful and usually take 2-3 weeks to heal. They hurt to eat or drink anything acidic like coffee or orange juice. Canker sores are a form of recurrent oral ulcerations that appear inside the mouth, often on the tongue or soft palate. Canker sores are much smaller than a cold sore and are red and painful.

They can be white or yellow at the very start, but then turn red within a day. Canker sores can also appear on the roof of your mouth (inside your cheeks). If the ulcer is on your tongue, it can be very uncomfortable, since you need to keep moving the tongue around to use it. Canker sores are caused by a virus called human herpes virus type 1 (HHV-1). Although it is called a ‘canker’ sore, it is not contagious. Canker sores are usually not caused by an infection or a nutritional deficiency.

Why Do You Get Canker Sores?

Canker sores are actually caused by the same virus (human herpes virus type 1, HHV-1) that causes cold sores. You get them when your immune system is stressed, and the virus reactivates in your salivary glands, causing a canker sore. Your immune system is usually able to keep the virus in check and prevent it from reactivating.

Caring for yourself, eating nutritious foods, and taking care of your general health will keep your immune system functioning optimally. When your immune system is stressed, it can become less effective at keeping the virus in check. This can happen for many reasons, including from excessive stress, not getting enough sleep, poor diet, drinking too much coffee or alcohol, or not getting enough vitamin B.

How to Prevent Canker Sores?

There are certain lifestyle changes that you can make to prevent canker sores.

Get Enough Sleep – Sleep is your body’s time to recharge and take care of itself. If you are not getting enough sleep, your body will not be able to fight off the virus and you are more likely to get canker sores.

Eat a Healthy Diet – Eating a well-balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables can help you stay healthy and avoid getting canker sores. Eat foods that are rich in B-vitamins. These include legumes, nuts, fish, and whole grains.

Practice Stress Reduction Techniques – Practicing relaxation exercises such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help you to manage your stress levels. It is important to learn to recognize when you are feeling stressed and have ways to calm yourself down.

Canker Sore Treatment and Home Remedies

If you have a canker sore, usually it will go away on its own in 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make the healing process go a little more smoothly.

Wash Your Mouth Out with Warm Water – To reduce the pain and promote healing, it’s helpful to rinse your mouth out with warm water several times a day. Make sure the water is not too hot, as this can burn the sore even more.

Use a Hydrating Mouthwash – If you use a mouthwash, choose one that is non-alcoholic, non-glycerin, and non-salt, as these can irritate your canker sore even more.

Eat an Acid-Free Diet – Canker sores are very sensitive to acidity, so it is important to eat an acid-free diet. Avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, and other foods that are acidic.


Canker sores are painful mouth ulcers that happen when the immune system has been stressed. When this happens, the herpes virus that causes cold sores is activated inside the salivary glands and causes the canker sores. While they are very common, they can be very frustrating to deal with. You can ease your symptoms and speed up the healing process by making some changes to your diet and lifestyle.


Enable registration in settings - general