A mouth ulcer is the loss or erosion of part of the delicate tissue that lines the inside of the mouth causing an open sore in the mouth.
There can be many causes ranging from accidental physical abrasion, acidic fruit, infections or specific medical conditions.
Mouth ulcer symptoms
Although the symptoms of a mouth ulcer vary depending on the cause, generally a person will experience:
- A round sore or sores inside the mouth
- Swollen skin around the sores
- Problems with chewing or toothbrushing because of the tenderness
- Irritation of the sores by salty, spicy or sour foods
- Loss of appetite
Mouth ulcer causes
It is important to establish the cause of the mouth ulcers.
Some of the investigations may include:
- Physical examination – mouth ulcers look different depending on their cause. For example, if the ulcer is large and yellow, it was most likely caused by trauma. However, cold sores inside the mouth tend to be very numerous and spread around the gums, tongue, throat and inside of the cheeks.
- Blood tests – check for signs of infection
- Skin biopsy – a small tag of tissue from the ulcer is taken and examined in a laboratory
Mouth ulcer treatment
The range of treatment options includes:
- Take pain-killing medication, such as paracetamol
- Apply antiseptic gel to the ulcers
- Use a medicated mouthwash
- Use steroid gels or tablets
- Treat aphthous ulcers with anti-inflammatory drugs
- Treat ulcers caused by the herpes simplex virus with anti-viral drugs
- Treat oral thrush with anti-fungal drugs
- Medications are sometimes required to treat specific medical conditions