List of Medications used for Mouth Ulcers (Oral Ulcers)

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Mouth ulcers, also known as oral ulcers or canker sores, are painful lesions that can appear on the soft tissues inside the mouth, including the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, and the roof of the mouth. These ulcers can cause discomfort and difficulty eating, drinking, and speaking. While mouth ulcers often heal on their own, various medications can expedite the healing process and alleviate the associated pain. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of medications used to treat mouth ulcers, their mechanisms of action, benefits, and potential side effects.

Understanding Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. Trauma: Biting the inside of the cheek, dental work, or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.
  2. Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of vitamins, particularly B12, folic acid, and iron.
  3. Hormonal Changes: Common in women during menstruation.
  4. Stress: Physical or emotional stress can trigger ulcers.
  5. Medical Conditions: Such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and certain autoimmune disorders.
  6. Food Sensitivities: To acidic or spicy foods.
  7. Infections: Viral infections like herpes simplex.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

  1. Topical Analgesics and Anesthetics
    • Benzocaine (Anbesol, Orajel): A local anesthetic that numbs the ulcer, providing temporary pain relief. It is applied directly to the ulcer and offers quick relief but should be used sparingly to avoid potential side effects like methemoglobinemia.
    • Lidocaine (Lidoderm, Xylocaine): Another local anesthetic used in gel or liquid form to numb the pain. It is more potent than benzocaine and is often used in severe cases.
  2. Antiseptic Mouthwashes
    • Chlorhexidine Gluconate (Peridex, Periogard): An antiseptic rinse that helps reduce bacterial load in the mouth, promoting faster healing of the ulcer. It can cause tooth staining with prolonged use.
    • Hydrogen Peroxide (Peroxyl): An antiseptic rinse that helps clean the ulcer and prevent secondary infection. It should be used in diluted form and not swallowed.
  3. Anti-inflammatory Gels
    • Benzydamine Hydrochloride (Difflam): A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) available in gel or mouth rinse form. It reduces pain and inflammation and is particularly effective for larger or more painful ulcers.
  4. Protective Pastes
    • Orabase: A paste that forms a protective barrier over the ulcer, shielding it from irritants and reducing pain. It often contains benzocaine for additional pain relief.
  5. Nutritional Supplements
    • Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, and Iron Supplements: For ulcers caused by deficiencies, taking these supplements can help prevent recurrence and promote healing.

Prescription Medications

  1. Topical Corticosteroids
    • Triamcinolone Acetonide (Kenalog in Orabase): A steroid paste applied directly to the ulcer. It reduces inflammation and speeds up healing. Long-term use can cause thinning of the oral mucosa.
    • Clobetasol Propionate (Temovate): A potent steroid used for severe or persistent ulcers. It is effective but should be used under medical supervision to avoid side effects.
  2. Systemic Corticosteroids
    • Prednisone: An oral steroid prescribed for severe, widespread, or persistent ulcers not responding to topical treatments. It is effective but has significant side effects, including immunosuppression, weight gain, and osteoporosis.
  3. Immune Modulators
    • Dapsone: Used for ulcers associated with autoimmune conditions like lupus or pemphigus. It suppresses the immune system and reduces inflammation. Side effects include anemia and liver toxicity.
    • Thalidomide: Reserved for severe, treatment-resistant cases, particularly in patients with HIV/AIDS. It modulates the immune response but has serious side effects, including teratogenicity and neuropathy.
  4. Antibiotics
    • Tetracycline Rinse: An antibiotic rinse used for secondary bacterial infections or ulcers associated with systemic conditions like Behçet’s disease. It reduces bacterial load and promotes healing.
  5. Antiviral Medications
    • Acyclovir (Zovirax): Used for ulcers caused by the herpes simplex virus. It reduces the duration and severity of outbreaks. It can be used in topical or oral form.
    • Valacyclovir (Valtrex): An oral antiviral more effective than acyclovir, often prescribed for frequent or severe herpes-related ulcers.

Alternative and Complementary Treatments

  1. Natural Remedies
    • Aloe Vera: Known for its soothing and healing properties, aloe vera gel can be applied directly to the ulcer to reduce pain and promote healing.
    • Honey: Has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying honey to the ulcer can soothe pain and speed up recovery.
  2. Herbal Mouthwashes
    • Chamomile: An herbal rinse made from chamomile tea can reduce inflammation and soothe pain. It has natural antiseptic properties.
    • Sage: Another herbal rinse that can reduce pain and inflammation associated with mouth ulcers.
  3. Probiotics
    • Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium: Probiotic supplements can improve oral health and reduce the frequency of mouth ulcers, especially in individuals with recurrent aphthous stomatitis.

Best Practices for Managing Mouth Ulcers

  • Maintain Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing and flossing with a soft-bristled toothbrush can prevent secondary infections and promote healing.
  • Avoid Irritants: Steer clear of spicy, acidic, or rough foods that can aggravate ulcers.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep the mouth moist and reduce discomfort.
  • Manage Stress: Practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises to minimize stress-related ulcers.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Ensure a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiencies that can cause ulcers.


Mouth ulcers can be a painful and bothersome condition, but a variety of medications and treatments are available to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. From over-the-counter remedies to prescription medications and natural treatments, there are numerous options to suit different needs and severities. Identifying the underlying cause of mouth ulcers is crucial for effective management and prevention. If you experience persistent or severe ulcers, consult a healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific condition. By following best practices and utilizing appropriate treatments, you can find relief and improve your oral health.

Also read: Birth Control Pills

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