Natural Remedies

Natural Remedies to Cure Canker Sores

Canker sores, which are also called aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow injuries that happen to the delicate tissues in your mouth or the base of your gums. In contrast to cold sores, canker sores don’t occur on the outside of your lips, and they aren’t infectious. They can be agonizing though and can make daily tasks like eating and talking troublesome.

The exact reason behind what gives rise to canker sores is unknown. While tissue injury and stress are considered to be the leading cause of it, citrusy or acidic fruits and vegetables can aggravate a canker sore or exacerbate the problem. Many a time, sharp dental contraption and appliances like braces or ill-fitting dentures have also been known to trigger canker sores.

Sometimes, apart from the reasons mentioned above, complex canker sores also result from an existing health condition, such as nutritional deficiencies of zinc, folic acid, iron, and vitamin B-12; weak immune system, or gastrointestinal diseases like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. Apart from these, possible triggers for canker sores are:

How To Get Rid of Canker Sores

  • Sensitivities to some kinds of toothpaste and mouth rinses containing lauryl sulfate.
  • Hormonal changes during menstruation cycle.
  • Minor injuries to the mouth from aggressive brushing of the teeth, sports injuries, accidental cheek bite, or dental work.
  • Sensitivities to certain foods like coffee, tea, chocolate, eggs, cheese, acidic foods, and spicy foods.
  • A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid), or iron(1).
  • An allergic response to bacteria.
  • The bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, which is also the bacteria that give rise to peptic ulcers.
  • Emotional stress.

Canker sores are often confused with and are also mistaken for cold sores. However, they are not the same. Cold sores are usually a cluster of painful, fluid blisters, which are more often than not, a result of a virus and are very contagious. Also, cold sores normally form outside the mouth on areas such as around the lips, and under the chin and nose, whereas canker sores happen inside the mouth.

Canker sores usually do go away on their own within 14 days. However, always consult with a medical practitioner or dental specialist at the earliest on the off chance that you have curiously enormous, excruciating ulcers or infections that don’t appear to go away.

Most canker sores are round or oval in shape with a white or yellow focus and a red fringe and appear on the tongue or under it, on the walls of the inner cheeks or lips, at the base of the gums, or on your delicate palate. You may feel a shivering or consuming sensation for a day or two prior to when the sores really show up.

Any person could develop infections. In any case, this occurs more frequently in youngsters and teenagers, and they’re increasingly normal in females.

It has been noted that individuals with an intermittent case of canker sores have a family history of the disorder. This might be because of heredity or a common factor in nature, for example, certain nourishments, or allergens.

Effective Natural Remedies for Canker Sores

  1. Essential Oils
  2. Home Remedies
  3. Lifestyle Changes
  4. Herbal Remedies
  5. FAQs

CURE 1. Essential Oils for Canker Sores

While the credibility of essential oils has long been in question for treating and healing canker sores because of their inherent properties like pungency in the past when talking about relieving not just canker sores, but lesions of any other kind, there remains no doubt of how effective healing agents they are today.

These oils have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects which prevent microbes from affecting the lesions. When in the process of treating your canker sores, you should try and do everything you can to stick to your treatment procedure.

If you’re thinking about which oils to use for when you have canker sores in throat, canker sores on the tongue, or canker sores on gums, you can find them here. Always remember that each essential oil is different than the other, so make sure to find what each oil has to offer.

 1. Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is also called Melaleuca, and it is an expectorant with antibacterial and antiviral properties. This essential oil is very great for the treatment of cold sores as a review(2) which studied the effect of tea tree oil on skin disorders concluded that it has a strong antiviral effect on HSV.

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties. It fights yeast infections, microorganisms, and growths, even those that can’t be treated with the help of general antibiotics. Tea tree essential oil is also renowned for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties. It can help repress the infection that aggravates lesions and prolong their healing time.

How to use and how much to use?

Take a few drops of the tea tree oil for canker sores and dilute it with the help of carrier oils like coconut oil, olive oil, etc. Always take care not to apply tea tree oil directly because it is very concentrated and can harm your skin. Simply applying the resultant oil mixture topically or dabbing it over the affected area is enough. Avoid using tea tree oil more than two times a day because it can irritate your skin and cause it to become dry.

Also Read: Amazing Benefits and Uses of Tea Tree Oil

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is a primary ingredient of many lotions and ointments for treating canker sores. A study conducted on Eucalyptus Grandis also depicted immune-enhancing effects along with an increased ability to fight microscopic organisms. It has a calming effect and soothes the skin when applied.

Recently, a study revealed that eucalyptus oil could reduce the duration of cold sores and also the degree of its severity.

Numerous studies have concluded that a constructive interaction between E. camaldulensis basic oil (a tree in the Eucalyptus family) and different antibiotics help in improving the effectiveness of medical procedures for treating cold sores, lesions, canker sores, etc.

Its chief component, 1,8-cineole (popularly known as cineole and eucalyptol), is what imparts the oil its characteristic and sharp smell. Eucalyptol is also very popular for its solid antibacterial and antiviral properties.

How to use and how much to use?

You can make a rinse of eucalyptus leaves. To create a solution, take one or two teaspoons of eucalyptus leaves and then boil them in some water. After that, let the water steep the eucalyptus leaves’ juices for 10 minutes. Rinse your mouth with this solution a couple of times a day.

3. Lemon Balm Oil

Lemon Balm Oil

Lemon balm oil is a very effective essential oil for treating canker sores and inhibiting the growth of the herpes virus. According to a study(3), it can penetrate the cells by 96% for strains that are drug-resistant.

Lemon balm oil has sharp antibiotic, antiseptic, and antiviral properties. While canker sores aren’t caused by bacteria or virus, the presence of these can certainly irritate the affected area and prolong the healing time of the sore. This is where the cleansing properties of lemon balm oil come in handy and assist the healing process.

How to use and how much to use?

You can apply lemon balm oil topically over the affected area, or you can make an ointment after mixing it with a suitable carrier oil. One other effective recipe which employs the usage of lemon balm oil is given below. For this, you’ll need:

  • Two tablespoons of lemon balm oil.
  • Two tablespoons of the sage tincture.
  • Two tablespoons of Echinacea tincture.

Take these three elements together and simply fold them into each other to make a mixture. After doing so, store it into a bottle and use it whenever you want. However, take care to limit its usage to 2-3 times per day.

CURE 2: Home Remedies for Canker Sores

Even though there exist a plethora of medical supplements to relieve the effect and occurrence of canker sores, home remedies that are made of organic elements are equally effective in lessening the severity and frequency of canker sores. Also, apart from healing canker sores, these also have many added health benefits.

1. Salt Water Rinse

The most popular and go-to home remedy of households the world over, a saltwater rinse is as functional as it is easy to make. Though it is a painful one, it is also a very efficient treatment procedure for not just canker sores, but for lesions of any kind.

How to use it?

A saltwater rinse is very easy to make and only takes a few minutes at the most. Create a saltwater rinse at your own comfort and be sure to do this regularly. Ensure that the water is lukewarm and not hot or warm. To make a saltwater rinse, you have to:

  • In half a cup of lukewarm water add a teaspoon of salt.
  • After making the solution, take a mouthful and swirl it in your mouth for at the most 15 to 30 seconds. After doing so, spit the solution out.
  • Repeat this every day and every few hours depending upon the severity of your sore.

2. Baking soda rinse

Baking soda rinse

A baking soda rinse is another great home remedy for treating canker sores. It is a very well-known and widely-followed remedial measure. While it isn’t painful like a saltwater rinse, you have to take care not to ingest the solution because it is very salty.

How to use it?

A baking soda rinse can re-establish your disturbed pH balance, and in the process, reduce inflammation which can heal the lesions. To make a baking soda rinse for canker sores, you have to:

  • Take a teaspoon of baking soda and dissolve it in half a cup of lukewarm water.
  • After making the solution, take a mouthful and swirl it in your mouth for at the most 15 to 30 seconds. After doing so, spit the solution out.

Repeat this every day and every few hours depending upon the severity of your sore.

3. Honey

Honey is an effective home remedy for treating canker sore because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is a proven remedial measure to reduce the pain and size of canker sores, and it also lessens the redness of the lesions. Honey is also a very good preventive measure for delaying or avoiding the onset of another infection.

How to use it?

You can’t just ingest any type of honey for treating and reducing canker sores. The honey that you find mostly in markets and stores is pasteurized at extreme temperatures, and that deprives it of its nutrients. That is why use for honey that is unfiltered and unpasteurised. One fine example is Manuka honey, which isn’t as processed as normal, bottled honey and has most of its healing properties intact.

Also Read: Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Blackheads Using Honey

4. Chamomile Compress

Products containing chamomile, such as chamomile tea are a great natural remedy to treat lesions and canker sores. They can be used to heal the wound and even lessen the pain. Chamomile has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties because of the presence of two compounds, namely azulene and levomenol. You can use a chamomile tea bag to act as a compress to treat your canker sores.

How to use it?

For treating canker sores with a chamomile compress, the procedure is very straightforward. But you need to have a chamomile tea bag or freshly brewed chamomile tea for the purpose. To treat your canker sores with chamomile tea, simply buy a chamomile tea bag, wet it, and then apply it to your sore.

Leave it on for a while, preferably 5-10 minutes, or depending upon how severe the lesions are. If you find this discomforting, you can also make a chamomile rinse by brewing fresh chamomile tea and then treating your mouth with the rinse. For the treatment to be effective, you should repeat the process for a minimum of three times a day.

CURE 3: Lifestyle Changes for Canker Sores

While canker sores are infections that can be hereditary and erupt naturally, they are also a result of leading a poor lifestyle. So, if you were of the opinion that making no changes to your lifestyle isn’t correlated to the frequency of the eruptions and chronic canker sores, then you’re very wrong.

If you are thinking about what kind of lifestyle leads to the development and how long do canker sores last, here are a few tips that you can espouse to lessen the occurrence of this annoying complication effectively.

1. Over-the-counter gel or patch

Many a time, application of topical, over-the-counter lotions or gels directly to the canker sore are enough to prevent ulcers from being irritated any further by external agents such as spicy or citrusy foods, or even by being tampered with. You can avail of special patches to place them over the canker sore to reduce irritation. These patches are made so that they stick to the inner walls of the mouth and prevent the ulcer from further harm.

2. Practicing dental hygiene with a soft brush

Practicing good dental hygiene and taking care not to irritate the sores can quicken the healing process by several notches. Making use of a soft toothbrush and a prescription toothpaste can also help you avoid lesions. By maintaining proper mouth hygiene, you can ensure that the ulcers don’t get infected by keeping the teeth and gums clean.

3. Consult with your doctor or dentist or orthodontist about which possible medications will be helpful for you

Although there are proven remedies that have been in use since time immemorial, it’s always best to take expert advice before you contemplate taking any medications or availing of any home remedies. Given below are a few prescription medications that you should ask your primary medical practitioner about before putting them to use:

  • Antibacterial mouthwash: There are a handful of mouthwashes that are clinically proven to reduce the proliferation of bacteria. Popular among them is Listerine; however, it contains alcohol which could irritate the lesions. For any other mouthwash, ask your doctor for ones containing chlorhexidine gluconate and ask them for its prescribed usage.
  • Corticosteroids: These are prescription creams or ointments for your mouth and can soothe the inflammation caused by canker sores.
  • Hydrogel patch: These patches are protective covering that contains aloe vera in one form or the other. The application of hydrogel patches has been known to soothe the inflammation around the lesions and also reduce the healing time. Ask your doctor for the ones that are FDA approved. You can find them at any pharmacy, medical store, or even online.
  • Analgesic gels: These are pain-relieving gels and are commonly known to contain the active ingredient diphenhydramine HCL or benzocaine. These form a protective membrane over and around the affected area. Analgesic gels are usually found over the counter, but you may need a prescription for the ones containing 2% lidocaine.

4. Reduce alcohol consumption and cut back on smoking

While this is a prevention tip not just for reducing the frequency of canker sores but just about anything, it should be taken seriously even for something as minor as lesions. While alcohol in itself irritates the lesions and prolongs their healing time, smoking is just as severe in its effects as alcohol consumption. If you consume alcohol, do so with some restraint and hold back till your sores heal.

CURE 4. Herbal Remedies for Canker Sores

Herbal remedies are a great stopgap for when you don’t want to consume painful medications or want to allay the effects of it quickly. These herbal remedies have been used since ages and are widely regarded to be the most organic and correct way to get rid of canker sores. By knowing which herbal remedy to avail of for treating canker sores and its related effects, you can treat it effectively. If you’ve been wondering about what to use for canker sores, here are four of the most effective herbal remedies to this end.

1. Echinacea


Echinacea is popularly used to battle infections, mostly the common cold, flu, and canker sores. Many people take echinacea when the first signs of infection appear, to stop it from developing. Echinacea helps strengthen the immune system and the defense of the body and wards off bacteria and viruses.

How to use and how much to use?

You can either consume its dry powdered extract form or take its liquid extract tinctures and apply it to the affected area. The recommended dosage for canker sores is about 200 milligrams of Echinacea four times a day. You should consult your dentist or doctor beforehand as the dosage for it varies from person to person.

2. Alum Powder

Alum powder is constituted of potassium aluminum sulfate. It’s regularly also used to keep food safe and to pickle vegetables. Alum has astringent properties, and that is helpful for shrinking the tissues and drying out the sores in the process. It has a long history of having been used as a remedy for drying out canker sores.

How to use and how much to use?

There exists a range of ways that you can use alum for treating canker sores. However, the most popular way is:

  • Make a fine paste by taking a tiny amount of alum powder, say a teaspoon, and mixing it with a couple of drops of water.
  • Take the paste and dab it onto a sore.
  • Let the mixture rest on it for at least a minute.
  • Rinse your mouth after this.
  • Repeat it every day until the canker sore vanishes completely.

3. Sage

Sage Herb

Sage has conventionally been utilized to treat mouth infections and inflammations. A sage mouthwash can work wonders as a general mouth rinse for a host of oral and dental problems. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent properties and can also help in relieving pain.

How to use and how much to use?

There are a variety of ways you can use sage to treat infections. You can consume it orally or make a paste out of it. Nut, the most widely used treatment measure is to form a mouthwash out of it by:

  • Make boiling water and add it to 1 or 2 tablespoons of fresh sage leaves.
  • Let it steep the natural goodness of the sage leaves for at least 5 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture and let the solution cool down.
  • Take a mouthful of the solution and swish it around your mouth for a couple of minutes.
  • Spit out the solution.

Repeat every day until the sores are healed.

Common Do(s) & Don’t(s) for Treating Canker Sores

Here are some common do(s) and don’t(s) to take care of when you have canker sores:

Do(s)Don’t(s)Do try to find ways to calm yourself and alleviate your stress levels if you lead a hectic lifestyle. Avoid soft drinks and aerated beverages. Do take more supplements such as zinc, B12, iron, and folic acid. You can take multiple supplements that contain these nutrients every day.

Avoid hot, spicy, citrusy, acidic, sharp, hard, and spicy foods which can aggravate the pain.

Do treat your sores with milk of magnesia. You can dab it on the affected area for a few times each day. Its antacid effect magnesia neutralizes the acidic composition of the sores.

Avoid chewing gum and talking while eating.

Try to eliminate sharp dental appliances and contraptions that protrude into the skin. Consult your dentist or orthodontist about these and ask about orally-safe wax to apply to your dental contraptions to avoid cuts and other injuries. Avoid chewing inedibles.

Apply ice chips on the affected area and allow them to melt over it. This will help numb the pain. Avoid smoking and alcohol and tobacco consumption in any form. Apply baking soda paste on the affected area to reduce the occurrence of infections. However, it does hurt a lot. Avoid tampering with your sores with your tongue as this aggravates the inflammation and causes the healing process to take longer.


1. What is a canker sore?

A canker sore, which is additionally called as an aphthous ulcer, is a small lesion which erupts on the soft tissue in the mouth, on the walls of the cheek, along the gums, or on the palate.

These sores can be minor and major at times. While minor sores don’t cause much discomfort, major ones are large and can cause severe pain. However, major lesions aren’t very common.

2. What is a canker sore like in appearance?

Most canker sores are a round or oval shape with a white or yellow focus and a red fringe. The structure inside your mouth — on the tongue or under it, on the walls of the inner cheeks or lips, at the base of the gums, or on your delicate palate. You may feel a shivering or consuming sensation for a day or two prior to when the sores really show up.

3. What are the different causes of canker sores, if any?

A canker sore can result after an injury to your mouth. It can be anything from an irritation caused to the delicate skin inside your mouth during an activity to biting the inside of the mouth or while eating or playing.

Also, people sensitive to certain kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash containing sodium lauryl sulfate can also suffer from recurrent canker sores. Some more possible causes are:

  • Hormonal changes during menstruation cycle.
  • Minor injuries to the mouth from aggressive brushing of the teeth, sports injuries, accidental cheek bite, or dental work.
  • Sensitivities to certain foods like coffee, tea, chocolate, eggs, cheese, acidic foods, and spicy foods.
  • A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron.
  • An allergic response to bacteria.
  • The bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, which is also the bacteria that give rise to peptic ulcers.
  • Emotional stress.

4. How to cure canker sores?

Canker sores aren’t very major complications and can be easily treated at home without having to consult a doctor or a dentist. Taking more supplements such as zinc, B12, iron, and folic acid and other supplements that contain these nutrients every day can soothe inflammation and neutralize the acid in the mouth.

5. Are canker sores contagious?

No, canker sores are not contagious and they do not spread on contact. You can’t contract a canker sore by acts such as sharing foods and drinks, or kissing someone, etc.

6. Are canker sores herpes?

Although the herpes virus can result in cold sores, these aren’t like a canker sore.

The telling difference between the two of them is that cold sores can be spread through physical contact from person to person. Also, cold sores occur on the outside of the mouth while canker sores happen in the mouth.

7. How long do canker sores last?

Canker usually sores remedy on their own within 14 days. It is advised that you consult with a medical practitioner or dental specialist at the earliest on the off chance that you have curiously enormous or excruciating ulcers or infections that don’t appear to go away.

8. What can you do for canker sores if they aren’t going away?

If canker sores don’t respond to home remedies and over-the-counter medications or they progressively worsen over time, consult a dentist or orthodontist immediately. Deeper or larger sores may need expressive treatment and a prescription of oral medication (dexamethasone) or a medicated mouthwash.

9. How to prevent the onset and frequency of canker sores?

There’s no proven way to prevent the onset of canker sores, but you can take measures to alter your lifestyle to reduce its frequency.

For example, if you have a nutritional deficiency, try to supplement them with multivitamins and a balanced diet. You can also discuss your possible allergies with your doctor to identify them. Practice proper oral hygiene and take care of your mouth to prevent the occurrence of sores.

Canker sores are very irritating and can be difficult to heal if proper preventive steps aren’t taken to treat it. They can disrupt the quality of your life and can make daily tasks such as eating and drinking difficult for you. If you wish to prevent the onset of, and reduce the severity of canker sores and are thinking about natural remedies for canker sores, this article can be your vade mecum. Follow the recommendations provided here and adopt a healthy lifestyle and you’ll see that canker sores aren’t all they are made out to be.

You should ensure a healthy diet schedule, adopting specific lifestyle changes, such as reducing the consumption of alcohol, giving up smoking, and administering home remedies. Canker sores, while minor, can also cause you severe pain and discomfort if not taken care of expressively.

If you fail to see any positive changes even after adopting all of the practices mentioned above, consult a doctor or orthodontist at the earliest to know what’s wrong. Ensure that you obey what your doctor prescribes you and see yourself defeat canker sores with no trouble at all.

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