Geriatric Medicine/Canker sore in mouth.


What can I put on the sore so it will heal quickly?Thanks!

Dear Randy:

Thank you for your question. Canker sores are quite common but please be sure that you are not confusing them with cold sores or fever blisters which are caused by a virus and are very contagious. These are typically outside the mouth and for the first outbreak should probably be assessed by a medical provider.

Aphthous ulcers, more commonly called canker sores, are small painful ulcers located inside the mouth, tongue, lips or throat. You have not provided me with the names of any medications you are taking nor any past medical history so if this is the first time you have experienced canker sores you should consider having an evaluation done by a dentist or medical provider to rule out problems such as an immune deficiency problem, decreased nutrition, decreased levels of vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid or iron, Celiac or Crohn's disease. Additional causes or contributing factors may include: vitamin deficiencies, hormone imbalance, acidic/spicy foods, or increased stress levels.

If this is a recurrence for you, you may find the following prescription medications helpful: triamcinolone paste, a medrol dose pack (steroids), debacterol, or abreva (not sure if this is prescription or not), viscous lidocaine.

While each individual is different, some of the following over the counter (OTC) medications and treatments have been found to be helpful by decreasing pain and the length of time these sores are present. They include: Xylactin ointment, Orajel, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, rinsing with baking soda and warm water, rinsing with warm salt water, antiseptic mouthwash, gingermint,applying glycerin on a cotton swab, aloe vera gel on a cotton swab, tea tree oil on a cotton swab, or alum on a cotton swab or Q-tip several times daily.

Some of the following OTC treatments have shown to be helpful in preventing future outbreaks: daily yogurt, lysine supplement, avoiding citrus products.

I hope that you find these prescription and OTC suggestions helpful. Again, I want to remind you if this is the first time experiencing a canker sore you should have a medical evaluation to rule out some of the potential medical issues listed above which may be contributing to the frequency of outbreaks of cancer sores or may be an indicator of a potentially more significant problem.

Best of luck with a quick resolution to this problem for you.


Gayle Gwozdz
Gerontology-C, GCM

Geriatric Medicine

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Gayle Gwozdz


My name is Gayle and I am an adult nurse practitioner (APRN)whose practice has focused on geriatrics in long term care facilities, evaluating and prescribing medications for medical and psychiatric conditions. I presently perform geriatric home assessments and physical exams in patients' homes. I can answer questions related to assisting adult children in keeping their parents at home, advising when a specialist should be consulted, advising if medications may be causing certain new problems that have arisen. Having cared for my dad with Alzheimer's for 14 years I am quite knowledgeable about what is normal and abnormal when it comes to this disease. I can help direct individuals to resources and support services that they may be unaware of. Lastly, I can make recommendations that can be brought back to the patient's doctor if he/she is willing to consider alternatives to the current treatment plan regarding a particular issue or medical problem.


I am an adult nurse practitioner with nearly 5 years experience in primary care, focusing on geriatric clients. I cared for my parents in the final 15 years of their lives interacting with healthcare providers, home nursing agencies, state agencies, Medicare and Medicaid representatives, palliative care and home hospice agencies. Prior to becoming an APRN I worked as an emergency dept. nurse for 15 years and 12 years for a large health insurance company providing medical reviews for underwriting, educating underwriters on medical conditions, utilization review and case management, requesting exceptions from medical directors to allow patients to receive medications or treatments not normally covered under their insurance plan, and I assisted in the area of reviewing complex medical claims for payment.

CT APRN American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Sigma Theta Tau International (SITT) AARP

"Walk A Corridor in My Shoes" published in November, 2004, Nursing Spectrum.

Associate Degree in Nursing from Greater Harford Community College BSN from CCSU MSN in Nursing Management from the University of Hartford MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute MSN with Adult APRN from Quinnipiac University Graduate Certificate in Geriatric Care Management from the University of Florida Reiki Master Legal Nurse Consultant

©2017 All rights reserved.