How do you get ulcers in the mouth? This is a common question many people ask, and yet, the exact cause of this problem is unknown (they could correlate with excessive Vitamin C intake – more than one orange, for instance). There are different types of ulcers that range in size and the symptoms you experience will depend on the type of mouth ulcer you have.

Also known as canker sores, mouth ulcers are painful lesions that appear in your mouth and at the base of your gums. Although they are mostly harmless, they can cause a lot of discomfort and make it difficult for you to do simple things like drink, eat (certainly ketchup or anything with any sodium in it!), and brush your teeth. So, exactly how do you get ulcers?

How Do You Get Ulcers?

mouth ulcers article multi colored question marks how do you get mouth ulcers anyway?

Common ulcers usually affect the inner cheeks and last roughly one week. They more often than not clear up within two weeks. Most mouth ulcers are harmless (despite being painful and agonizing) and do not require medical treatment. Before you understand how do you get ulcers, you need to know what they are.

Types of mouth ulcers

There are three main types of mouth ulcers, which are as follows:

Herpetiform Ulceration (HU)

A subtype of aphthous ulcers, herpetiform ulcers get their name for their resemblance to herpes sores. The difference is that HU is not contagious like herpes. Herpetiform ulcers recur extremely fast, and it may seem like the condition never improves. These ulcers may appear in all age groups, especially between the age of 10 and 40.

Minor Ulcers

This type of mouth ulcer can come in varying sizes, from roughly 2mm to 8mm across. In most cases, minor ulcers will cause a little pain and take about two weeks to get better.

Major Ulcers

This type of mouth ulcer is bigger than minor ones and often appears in raised, irregular shapes and penetrates deeper into the tissue compared to minor ulcers. Major ulcers usually take a couple of weeks to go away and more often than not, leave scar tissue when they clear up.

Symptoms of mouth ulcers

As mentioned already, symptoms of canker sores depend largely on the type of mouth ulcer you have. Regardless of how do you get ulcers or the type, having one can be miserable. Here is a look at the symptoms that you are likely to experience based on the type of ulcer that has developed in your mouth or gums:

Herpetiform Ulceration (HU)

HU lesions may:

  • Appear as extremely painful blood blister in the mouth
  • Recur very fast, so it may seem like a continuous infection
  • Become larger, gradually coming together to form one large, ragged lesion or sore
  • Appear anywhere in your mouth
  • Take 10 days or more to go away
  • HU ulcers are more common in women than men and also seem to affect older adults more.

Minor and major mouth ulcer

Symptoms of these types of canker sores include:

  • One or more painful lesions that may appear on your tongue, the roof of your mouth, or on your cheeks
  • Round sores with red edges and a white, yellow, or grey center
  • When some people develop more extreme mouth ulcer outbreaks, they may experience swollen glands, fever, and sluggishness.

Causes of Mouth Ulcers

How do you get ulcers? While the exact cause of canker sores is still unknown and varies from one person to another, there are some common factors that contribute to the appearance of these painful sores and may aggravate the problem, including:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Damage to the mouth lining resulting from vigorous brushing, biting the inside of your mouth, ill-fitting dentures or orthodontic braces
  • Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections
  • Acids in certain foods, including lemons, oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, pineapples, and more
  • Toothpaste or oral rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Certain medications, including painkillers and beta-blockers
  • Deficiency of essential nutrients such as Vitamin B-12, zinc, folate, and iron
  • Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Allergic reactions
  • Weakened immune system

How do you get ulcers? Sometimes, the underlying cause is a medical condition such as Crohn’s disease, celiac, Leukoplakia, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gingivostomatitis, oral thrush, oral cancer, or an immune disorder

Treatment for mouth ulcers

When people develop mouth ulcers on a frequent basis, they not only need to know how do you get mouth ulcers, they may also wonder when they should consult a doctor. There are some situations when you should see a doctor as soon as possible, including:

  • A painless ulcer appears in one or more areas in your mouth
  • Unusual sores or lesions appearing in a new spot
  • Lesions or sores that are spreading
  • Ulcers lasting over three weeks

You may also want to seek medical attention or treatment for your mouth ulcer problem if:

  • Sores are particularly big or painful
  • You get a fever
  • Sores appear after you have started a new medication
  • You suffer from secondary bacterial infections

Understanding how do you get ulcers is great, but if you have one, the real question on your mind is probably how to get rid of it. In most cases, the pain and discomfort that comes with mouth ulcers will improve in a few days, and the sores will disappear in about two weeks without any need for medical treatment.

If you experience a frequent recurrence of mouth ulcers or much more painful lesions, a dentist may prescribe a solution to lessen the pain and reduce the swelling. You may also be prescribed an ointment that you must apply directly to the infected area or an antimicrobial mouthwash.

Ulcer Diet

When you have mouth ulcers, eating the right foods can play an important role in healing and preventing the condition.

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Things you can eat

An ulcer diet should include foods rich in Vitamin B, folic acid, and iron, including eggs, soy milk, fish, eggs, oysters, meat, dark green vegetables, beans, banana, grapefruit and other citrus fruits, pineapple, chicken liver, ham, pumpkin, broccoli, potato, cereals, sesame, wheat gram, etc. Cool foods and beverages can help in soothing the pain that comes with mouth ulcers.

When you ask the question, “how do you get mouth ulcers,” one of the causes mentioned earlier was the acids in certain fruits. However, you also need to eat them to treat and prevent canker sores, so what do you do? If you can cook the vegetable or fruit that does reduce the abrasive qualities of pineapples and citrus fruits. Drink coconut water as often as you can to ease the symptoms of mouth ulcers and prevent them from recurring.

Things you must avoid

When you have a mouth ulcer, you should avoid foods that have a lot of salt in them, such as pretzels, and also heavily spiced foods, like curries, as they can make the lesions in your mouth sting. Pickled foods, salad dressings, and other foods containing vinegar as the main ingredient are also a big no-no as they have high acid content. You should also avoid nuts and seeds as they are abrasive and scrape and scratch ulcers, which in turn could make them worse.

Home Remedies for Blood Blister in Mouth

You can use natural remedies to treat mouth ulcers or a blood blister in the mouth. They are simple, safe, and effective, and also provide a wide range of other benefits. Here is a look at some of the best home remedies to treat a mouth ulcer:


Because it has strong antibacterial properties, honey is one of the best home remedies to treat mouth ulcers. By retaining moisture, it helps in preventing your mouth from dryness and also speeds up the growth of new tissues.

natural remedy for ulcers

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You can apply raw honey directly on the ulcer several times every day until the sores are gone. Adding a pinch of turmeric powder to the honey will help in the healing process.

Coconut oil

With its natural anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil is another effective natural remedy for mouth ulcers. It is a simple and easy way to ease pain and inflammation in your mouth.

Swish one teaspoon of organic coconut oil around in your mouth for about 10 to 15 minutes and then spit it out. Repeat this several times a day to soothe the pain and reduce swelling.

Aloe vera gel or juice

This is one of the simplest ways to treat canker sores. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that work wonders in treating this problem and even stomach ulcers. This magical plant heals the stomach lining and reduces acidic secretions.

Apply fresh aloe vera gel to the affected area two to three times a day until the ulcer disappears. Or swish some aloe vera juice in your mouth and spit it out after a few minutes several times a day to relieve symptoms. You can also drink the juice to heal ulcers.

Baking soda

Since this is an alkaline, baking soda helps in neutralizing acids that irritate mouth ulcers. It also kills bacteria in your mouth so that your sore heals quickly.

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Mix one teaspoon of baking powder into half a cup of warm water. Rinse your mouth with this solution. Repeat about three times a day until your sores heal completely.


This herb has many medicinal properties that make it an excellent natural remedy for mouth ulcers. It kills viruses and bacteria and also contains compounds that help in reducing inflammation.

Steep two teaspoons of dried sage in one covered cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Allow it to cool and rinse your mouth. Remember to swish the tea around in your mouth for a few minutes before spitting it out. Do this two to three times to obtain stellar results.

While mouth ulcers are often harmless, they can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and keep you from enjoying your meals and your favorite beverages. Before treating this problem, you should ask a few questions like: How do you get ulcers? What causes it? And, what are the symptoms?

What type of treatment should you use to relieve symptoms and heal the sores? Once you have the answers, you can go ahead and find the best treatment to get rid of those painful sores and start enjoying eating and drinking again.


Featured Image: CC by 3.0, by Noorus, via Wikimedia Commons