Mouth Sores

Mouth Sores Symptoms & Signs

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Sores or localized abnormalities inside the mouth can arise from a number of causes. Mouth sores can occur on the tongue, gums, lips, or inside the cheeks. They may appear as ulcers or red or white patches in the mouth. Bleeding may sometimes occur if ulceration is severe. Bite injuries to the tongue or inside of the cheek are a common cause of mouth sores. Also commonly, mouth sores represent aphthous ulcers, also known as canker sores or aphthous stomatitis. These shallow, painful mouth ulcers often occur in susceptible individuals during times of stress, infection, or changes in immune status. Certain medications (for example, methotrexate [Trexall]) can cause canker sores as well as deficiencies in some B vitamins (1, 2, 6, and 12), iron, folic acid, and zinc. However, irritation, injury, burns, or infection of any of the tissues in the oral cavity can also lead to mouth sores. Sores in the mouth can occur with certain systemic (affecting multiple locations within the body) diseases such as Crohn's disease, Behçet's syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Rarely, mouth sores are among the initial signs of oral cancers. Herpes simplex virus infection causes so-called cold sores, which are typically located on the lips, but they can also occur on the gums. Among the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the chancres of syphilis can occur as mouth sores.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/17/2015

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REFERENCE:

Longo, D.L., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

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Causes of Mouth Sores
    • Behcet's Syndrome Behçet's syndrome is a disease characterized by three symptoms: genital ulcers, recurring mouth ulcers, and inflammation...learn more »
      In This Article
      Behcet's Syndrome Article
      • Behçet's syndrome facts
      • What is Behçet's syndrome?
      • What causes and contagious of Behçet's syndrome?
      • What are symptoms of Behçet's syndrome?
      • How is Behçet's syndrome diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment of Behçet's syndrome?
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      Bullous Pemphigoid Article
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      • What are symptoms of bullous pemphigoid?
      • How is bullous pemphigoid diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for bullous pemphigoid?
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    • Burns (First Aid) Burns are categorized by severity as first, second, or third degree. First degree burns are similar to a painful sunburn. The...learn more »
      In This Article
      Burns (First Aid) Article
      • Introduction to burns
      • How are burns classified?
      • What is the significance of the amount of body area burned?
      • How important is the location of a burn?
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      • What about chemical burns?
      • First aid for burns
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    • Chickenpox (Varicella) Chickenpox (chicken pox) is a contagious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms have an incubation...learn more »
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      Chickenpox (Varicella) Article
      • Chickenpox facts
      • What is chickenpox? What causes chickenpox?
      • How does chickenpox spread?
      • What are chickenpox symptoms and signs?
      • What are treatment options for chickenpox?
      • What are the possible complications of chickenpox?
      • Can chickenpox be prevented with a vaccine?
    • Cocaine and Crack Abuse Cocaine is an addictive stimulant that is smoked, snorted, and injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is...learn more »
      In This Article
      Cocaine and Crack Abuse Article
      • Cocaine and crack abuse facts
      • What is cocaine? What is crack?
      • How is cocaine abused?
      • What are cocaine's effects on the body and the mind?
      • What causes and prevents cocaine abuse and addiction?
      • What are symptoms and signs of cocaine abuse and addiction?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose cocaine addiction?
      • What is the treatment for cocaine and crack addiction?
      • What are symptoms and signs of cocaine withdrawal?
      • What are the long-term effects and the prognosis for cocaine and crack addiction?
      • Where can people find more information about cocaine and crack abuse?
    • Cold Sores (Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections) Herpes simplex infections are common and when they appear around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores"...learn more »
      In This Article
      Cold Sores (Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections) Article
      • Herpes simplex infections (nongenital cold sores) facts
      • What are herpes simplex infections?
      • What causes cold sores?
      • What makes herpes (cold sores) recur?
      • How do cold sores spread?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of cold sores?
      • What is primary oral herpes?
      • What does recurrent herpes look like?
      • How long do cold sores last?
      • What are the risk factors for herpes simplex infections?
      • What are the possible complications of oral herpes (cold sores)?
      • What is the prognosis for oral herpes (cold sores)?
      • What other conditions can look like oral herpes (cold sores)?
      • What is angular stomatitis?
      • What are canker sores?
      • How is oral herpes diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for cold sores, are there any home remedies, and what medications are used?
      • Is it possible to prevent cold sores?
    • Coxsackie Virus Coxsackie viruses may be divided into two groups. Type A causes hand, foot, and mouth disease and conjunctivitis, while type B...learn more »
      In This Article
      Coxsackie Virus Article
      • Coxsackie virus facts
      • What is coxsackie virus?
      • What are the types of coxsackie viruses, and what can they cause?
      • What are coxsackie virus infection symptoms and signs?
      • How do people get infected with coxsackie virus?
      • What are the risk factors for coxsackie virus infection?
      • How are coxsackie virus infections diagnosed?
      • Is there any treatment for coxsackie virus infection?
      • Can coxsackie virus infections be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis of coxsackie virus infections?
    • Crohn's Disease Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect...learn more »
      In This Article
      Crohn's Disease Article
      • Crohn's disease facts
      • What is Crohn's disease?
      • What causes Crohn's disease?
      • How does Crohn's disease affect the intestines?
      • How is Crohn's disease different from ulcerative colitis?
      • What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?
      • What are the complications of Crohn's disease?
      • How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?
      • How is Crohn's disease treated?
      • Crohn's Disease Medications
      • Anti-inflammatory medications
      • 5-ASA (mesalamine) oral medications
      • 5-ASA rectal medications (Rowasa, Canasa)
      • Corticosteroids
      • Budesonide (Entocort EC)
      • Antibiotics for Crohn's disease
      • Immuno-modulator medications
      • Azathioprine (Imuran) and 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP, Purinethol)
      • Infliximab (Remicade)
      • Adalimumab (Humira)
      • Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
      • Natalizumab (Tysabri)
      • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
      • Surgery in Crohn's disease
      • Are there any recommendations for diet, supplementation, or vaccinations for Crohn's disease?
      • Conclusions
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      In This Article
      Dental Injuries Article
      • Dental injury facts
      • What are common causes of dental injuries?
      • How is a tooth fracture treated?
      • What are treatment options for a serious tooth fracture?
      • What is the treatment for a chipped tooth?
      • How is a fracture of the enamel and dentin treated?
      • What are first aid tips for knocked out teeth?
      • What is the treatment for a displaced tooth?
      • Is it possible to prevent dental injuries?
    • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and non-prescription drugs and certain medical conditions. Symptoms of dry...learn more »
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      Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Article
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      • What is the prognosis of dry mouth?
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      Gum Disease Article
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      • What causes gum disease?
      • Does gum disease cause bad breath?
      • What are other gum disease symptoms and signs?
      • How is gum disease diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for gum disease?
      • Are home remedies or natural treatments effective for gum disease?
      • Can gum disease be reversed?
      • Is gum disease associated with other health problems?
      • How is gum disease managed in children?
      • How is gum disease managed in pregnancy?
      • Can gum disease be prevented?
      • Is gum disease contagious?
    • Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Hand, foot, and mouth syndrome is clinical pattern consisting of a rash on the hands and feet, and in the mouth. Hand, foot, and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Article
      • Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) facts
      • What is hand, foot, and mouth (HFMD) disease?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
      • What causes hand, foot, and mouth disease?
      • How is hand, foot, and mouth disease spread?
      • What is the incubation period for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
      • When does hand, foot, and mouth disease usually occur?
      • How does hand, foot, and mouth disease affect pregnancy and the baby?
      • What is the course of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
      • Why haven't we heard more about hand, foot, and mouth disease?
      • How is hand, foot, and mouth disease diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
    • Herpangina Herpangina is a contagious illness often seen in children. It is caused by a Coxsackievirus or an enterovirus. Symptoms and signs...learn more »
      In This Article
      Herpangina Article
      • Herpangina facts
      • What is herpangina?
      • What causes herpangina?
      • Is herpangina contagious?
      • How long is the incubation period for herpangina?
      • What are herpangina symptoms and signs?
      • How is herpangina diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for herpangina?
      • How long does herpangina last? What is the prognosis for herpangina?
      • What is the difference between herpangina and hand, foot, and mouth disease?
      • Is it possible to prevent herpangina?
      • Where can people find more information about herpangina?
    • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs...learn more »
      In This Article
      Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Article
      • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) facts
      • What is the history of HIV, and when was HIV discovered?
      • What tests are used in the diagnosis of HIV?
      • How is HIV spread (transmitted)?
      • What are symptoms and signs of HIV infection and AIDS in men, women, and children?
      • What happens after an exposure to the blood or genital secretions of an HIV-infected person?
      • What laboratory tests are used to monitor HIV-infected people?
      • What are HIV treatments and medications? What are the key principles in managing HIV infection?
      • When should antiviral therapy be started?
      • What is the initial therapy for HIV?
      • What are nucleoside and nucleotide analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)?
      • What are nonnucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)?
      • What are protease inhibitors?
      • What are fusion inhibitors?
      • What is a CCR5 antagonist?
      • What is an integrase strand transfer inhibitor?
      • What HIV drugs are in development?
      • What are side effects of HIV therapy?
      • What happens if the patient's viral load increases while on HIV therapy?
      • What are the risks of missing doses or stopping antiviral therapy?
      • Should patients with the flu- or mono-like illness of primary HIV infection be treated?
      • What about treatment for HIV during pregnancy?
      • What can be done for people who have severe immunosuppression?
      • What is the future for HIV-infected individuals with regards to treatment simplification and cure research?
      • What is in the future for preventing HIV transmission?
    • Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) Contagious? Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a highly contagious disease caused by several enteroviruses. These viruses are...learn more »
      In This Article
      Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) Contagious? Article
      • What is hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)?
      • Is hand, foot, and mouth disease contagious?
      • How do I know someone has hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)?
      • How is hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) transmitted?
      • How will I know someone is cured of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)?
      • When should I contact medical caregiver about hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD)?
    • Is Thrush Contagious? Thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. An infant with thrush can infect his/her mother with thrush during...learn more »
      In This Article
      Is Thrush Contagious? Article
      • What is thrush?
      • Is thrush contagious?
      • How will I know if I have thrush?
      • How is thrush spread?
      • When will I know if I am cured of thrush?
      • When should I contact a medical caregiver about thrush?
    • Leukoplakia Leukoplakia is a white or gray patch that develops on the tongue or inside the cheek. Causes of Leukoplakia may include...learn more »
      In This Article
      Leukoplakia Article
      • Introduction
      • What causes Leukoplakia?
      • What are the symptoms?
      • How is Leukoplakia diagnosed?
      • How is Leukoplakia treated?
    • Lichen Planus Lichen planus is a common skin disease that features small, itchy pink or purple spots on the arms or legs. the abnormal areas on...learn more »
      In This Article
      Lichen Planus Article
      • Lichen planus facts
      • What is lichen planus?
      • What causes lichen planus?
      • How is the rash of lichen planus different from that of most other common rashes?
      • What are lichen planus symptoms and signs?
      • What does lichen planus look like?
      • How is lichen planus diagnosed?
      • Are there home remedies for lichen planus?
      • What is the treatment for lichen planus?
      • What is the long-term prognosis of lichen planus?
    • Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE) Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease....learn more »
      In This Article
      Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE) Article
      • Systemic lupus erythematosus facts
      • What is systemic lupus erythematosus? What are the types of lupus?
      • What are risk factors and causes of systemic lupus erythematosus? Is lupus contagious? Is lupus hereditary?
      • What is drug-induced lupus?
      • What are lupus symptoms and signs?
      • How is systemic lupus erythematosus diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for systemic lupus?
      • Is there a systemic lupus erythematosus diet?
      • How can a lupus patient help prevent disease activity (flares)?
      • How can systemic lupus erythematosus affect pregnancy or the newborn?
      • What specialties of doctors treat lupus?
      • What is the prognosis of lupus? What does the future hold for people with systemic lupus?
      • Where can one get more information about systemic lupus erythematosus?
    • Oral Cancer The term oral cancer includes cancer of the mouth (oral cavity) and the back of the mouth (oropharynx). Red and white patches...learn more »
      In This Article
      Oral Cancer Article
      • Oral cancer facts*
      • What is the oral cavity?
      • What is cancer?
      • Who's at risk for oral cancer?
      • What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
      • How is oral cancer diagnosed?
      • How is oral cancer treated?
      • Methods of treatment
      • What are the side effects of treatment for oral cancer?
      • What is rehabilitation for oral cancer?
      • What happens after treatment for oral cancer?
      • What does the future hold for patients with oral cancer?
      • What resources are available to patients with oral cancer?
    • Sjogren's Syndrome Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sjogren's Syndrome Article
      • Sjögren's syndrome facts
      • What is Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What causes Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What are risk factors for developing Sjögren's syndrome?
      • What are Sjögren's syndrome symptoms and signs?
      • How is Sjögren's syndrome diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for Sjögren's syndrome? Will dietary changes improve Sjögren's syndrome symptoms and signs?
      • What are complications of Sjögren's syndrome?
      • Can Sjögren's syndrome be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis for patients with Sjögren's syndrome?
      • Conclusion
    • Syphilis in Women Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a spiral-shaped type of bacteria known as a spirochete. There are...learn more »
      In This Article
      Syphilis in Women Article
      • What is syphilis?
      • What causes syphillis?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of syphilis?
      • What tests are used to diagnose syphilis?
      • What is the treatment for syphilis?
      • What are the potential complications of syphilis?
      • What is the prognosis for syphilis?
      • Can syphilis be prevented?
    • Thrush (Oral Candidiasis) Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by the candida fungus. Symptoms of Thrush include pain or difficulty swallowing, a...learn more »
Other Causes of Mouth Sores
  • Angular Cheilitis
  • Bites
  • Dental Injury
  • Erythema Multiforme/Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Medications
  • Mucocele
  • Pemphigus Vulgaris
  • Poorly Fitting Braces or Dentures
  • Ulcer
  • Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency
Examples of Medications for Mouth Sores


Symptoms & Signs A-Z List