Cold sores. Signs. Treatment

Cold sores are painful, ulcerative lesions that usually appear inside the mouth, on the tongue, lips or throat. They are also called ‘aphthous ulcers’ or ‘mouth ulcers’. More commonly affecting teenagers and young adults, canker sores can be a recurring problem for many people. In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of canker sores, as well as the treatment options available.

Signs and symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of canker sores are:

  • Pain or discomfort: Canker sores can be painful and make it difficult to eat or speak.

  • Ulcerative lesions: These usually appear as small round or oval ulcers with red or whitish margins.

  • Tenderness: Lesions may be sensitive to touch or to hot or cold food or drink.

  • Nausea or fatigue: In more severe cases, mouth ulcers may be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, fatigue or fever.

Afta bucală, sau stomatita aftoasă, poate fi declanșată de o varietate de factori:

Afta bucal─â, caracterizat─â prin ulcera╚Ťii dureroase la nivelul gurii, are cauze diverse. Acestea includ:

  • Traume: Lovirea sau mu╚Öcarea buzelor, limbii sau obrajilor.

  • Stres: Situa╚Ťii tensionate sau anxietatea pot declan╚Öa aftele.

  • Alimenta╚Ťie: Consumul de alimente iritante sau acide, cum ar fi citricele sau cafeaua.

  • Sensibilitate la anumite alimente: Reac╚Ťii la anumite alimente sau aditivi.

  • Boli sistemice: Asociere cu boli inflamatorii intestinale sau afec╚Ťiuni autoimune.

Cauzele aftelor bucale mai includ:

  • Factori locali: Cum ar fi stresul, menstrua╚Ťia sau alimentele acide.

  • Depresia sistemului imunitar: Stomatita aftoas─â.

  • Deficien╚Ťe de vitamine ╚Öi minerale.

  • Alergii.

  • Traumatisme bucale: Lovituri sau r─âni care afecteaz─â mucoasa bucal─â.

Se estimeaz─â c─â aproape jum─âtate din popula╚Ťia lumii dezvolt─â afte bucale ├«n timpul vie╚Ťii, iar pentru majoritatea pacien╚Ťilor, acestea, de╚Öi deranjante, nu reprezint─â o amenin╚Ťare direct─â pentru via╚Ť─â.


Preventing canker sores can be difficult, but there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing them, such as avoiding foods that can aggravate canker sores, reducing stress and maintaining proper oral hygiene.

In summary, canker sores are painful, ulcerative lesions that can appear inside the mouth, on the tongue, lips or throat. In most cases, they heal on their own within a few days or weeks, but in more severe cases, it is recommended to consult a doctor to discuss available treatment options. By avoiding foods that aggravate canker sores, reducing stress and maintaining proper oral hygiene, you can reduce the risk of developing them.

The oral cavity is permanently exposed to irritants found in the environment.

Normally, the mucous membranes lining it are there to maintain the integrity of the underlying structures and act as a barrier to potentially destructive substances.

Under certain conditions, however, pathological formations may develop in the mucous membranes, causing discomfort.


Canker sores or aphthous stomatitis are characterized by small, round, painful formations which, as they progress, may ulcerate. The most common sites of mouth ulcers are as follows:

  • On the inner surface of the lips

  • On the inner surface of the cheeks

  • On the tongue

  • At the base of the gums

  • On the palate, i.e. in the roof of the mouth

Mouth ulcers are usually transmitted in families. They may occur in isolation or in association with certain syndromes.

They can also be singular or several can occur at the same time. Individuals who develop thrush total about 10 eruptive episodes per year.

It is important to know that canker sores are not contagious, so they cannot be passed from person to person via saliva.


Can be painful and heal with scarring. Patients who present with canker sores experience a burning sensation before the round formation appears. After 2-3 days, the canker sore is visible in the oral cavity, being raised and covered by a yellowish membrane.

Pain and discomfort persist for 3-5 days after which they disappear within a week. There are no methods to prevent the development of aphthous stomatitis.

In most cases, it is not necessary to visit the dentist in case of aphthous stomatitis.

However, if their size increases over time and the frequency of their occurrence also increases, if the appearance of canker sores is accompanied by fever or diarrhea, they should be investigated.


The treatment of mouth ulcers is symptomatic and aims to relieve the patient’s discomfort until the condition subsides.

In most cases, mouth ulcers heal by themselves within a few days or weeks. However, if the lesions are painful or persist for more than two weeks, it is advisable to consult a doctor or dentist. Depending on the severity of canker sores, your doctor may recommend the following treatment options:

  • Topical medication: Ointments, gels or antiseptic solutions applied directly to canker sores can help reduce pain and inflammation and speed healing.

  • Steroid treatment: In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe steroid medication that is applied to the canker sore or taken orally. These helps reduce inflammation and pain and can speed healing.

  • Analgesics: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with canker sores.

  • Vitamins and supplements: Some vitamins and supplements, such as vitamin B12, folic acid or zinc, can help prevent or reduce mouth ulcers.

  • Dietary changes: Avoiding foods that aggravate canker sores, such as citrus or spicy foods, can help reduce discomfort.

  • Gargle with saline: Gargling with saline or warm water and salt can help reduce inflammation and pain and speed healing.

The treatment, however, does not prevent canker sores from recurring over time.

To reduce the discomfort caused by canker sores, the patient can follow a few steps such as:

  • Eat soft foods

  • Rinse mouth with mouthwash

  • Use topical pain relievers in cream form

In severe cases, when the pain is exacerbated, the doctor may prescribe steroid treatment to relieve symptoms.

Mouth ulcers are therefore a pathology that cannot be prevented but is in most cases harmless and remission is achieved without causing damage to the oral mucosa. Good hygiene, however, helps to reduce their occurrence.

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