Mouth ulcers are sores or open lesions in the mouth.
Mouth ulcers are caused by many disorders. These include:
A skin sore caused by histoplasmosis may also appear as a mouth ulcer.
Symptoms will vary based on the cause of the mouth ulcer. Symptoms may include:
Most of the time, a health care provider or dentist will look the ulcer and where it is in the mouth to make the diagnosis. You may need blood tests or a biopsy of the ulcer may be needed to confirm the cause.
The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.
The outcome varies depending on the cause of the ulcer. Many mouth ulcers are harmless and heal without treatment.
Some types of cancer [link to Squamous cell carcinoma [01-000829] that may first appear as a mouth ulcer that does not heal. See:
Call your health care provider if:
A mouth ulcer does not go away after 3 weeks.
You have mouth ulcers return often, or if new symptoms develop.
To help prevent mouth ulcers and complications from them:
Oral ulcer; Stomatitis - ulcerative; Ulcer - mouth
Daniels TE. Diseases of the mouth and salivary glands. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 433.
Mirowski GW, Mark LA. Oral disease and oral-cutaneous manifestations of gastrointestinal and liver disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 22.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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