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Canker Sores

Canker Sores
Canker Sores
Causes and Risk Factors

Canker sores
About one in five Americans are affected by recurrent canker sores. Canker sores, also known as aphthous stomatitis or aphthous ulcers, affect the mouth and can be quite painful. Even small canker sores can make eating, drinking or even smiling difficult. But what is a canker sore? How is a canker sore different than a cold sore? And what types of canker sores do doctors diagnose?

What is a canker sore?
A canker sore is a small, shallow lesion of the soft tissues of the mouth. A canker sore can be located at the:

  • base of the gums
  • inside the cheeks
  • inside the lips
  • under the tongue

Canker sore vs. cold sore
The location of a sore will tell you if it is a canker sore or a cold sore. A cold sore usually appears outside the mouth, on or around the lips, chin, or nostrils. A canker sore, however, is always found inside the mouth. Canker sores can also be distinguished from cold sores because they do not occur on the surface of the lips or face, but only inside the moth. Canker sores, unlike cold sores, are not contagious, but can be quite painful.

Canker sores are found only inside the mouth, on the insides of the cheeks or lips, on the tongue. In appearance, they are gray or white, surrounded by a red inflamed area. Canker sores are not contagious and cannot be spread through kissing or sharing cups or utensils.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and can occur inside the mouth during a primary infection. Generally, cold sores appear outside the mouth on the lips. Cold sores begin as clear, and then become cloudy. Cold sores can be passed from person to person.

Types of canker sores
There are several types of canker sores:

Herpetiform canker sores - These clusters of tiny lesions may merge to form a single large ulcer. Herpetiform canker sores usually develop in older people and may last from a week to a month or more.

Minor canker sores - These are the most common type of canker sores, and are small (less than 1/3-inch or 7.62 millimeters wide) and generally clear up on their own in about two weeks. Minor canker sores can be very painful, but they are not serious.

Major canker sores - These large lesions with irregular margins can last months or even years, and extensive scarring can be present after they have healed.

What causes a canker sore adn how can they be avoided?  Continue here for more information on risk factors for developing canker sores, as well as details on what causes canker sores.

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Tags: contagious, appearance, infection, drinking, affect, Herpes, mouth, Ulcer, lips, herpes simplex, about herpes, about cold, herpes virus, appears to be, are cold sores contagious
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