Canker Sore Treatment: FSA Eligibility
What is a canker sore?
A canker sore, also known as an aphthous ulcer, are small, painful ulcers on the inside of the mouth, tongue, lips or throat that are usually white or yellowish and surrounded by red, inflamed soft tissue. Canker sores share some of the same symptoms as and are often confused with cold sores, but as opposed to the latter, canker sores are not contagious and cannot be spread between two individuals (WebMD).
Canker sores take on two different forms, simple and complex cankers. Simple canker sores will emerge about three to four times each year, and while they can be painful and inhibit an individual's ability to talk, simple canker sores will typically clear up in a week or two after the use of topical treatments. While the direct cause of canker sores is still not known, physicians theorize that these mouth sores can emerge due to stress, tissue injury or even an excessive amount of acidic foods (oranges, lemons, tomatoes) that can damage soft tissues in the mouth.
Complex canker sores are larger and deeper than simple canker sores, and some are believed to be caused by underlying health issues, such as a nutritional deficiency, impaired immune system or gastrointestinal tract disorders like Crohn's disease. These sores can be extremely painful and can often last as long as six weeks, as well as leaving behind extensive scarring. In these complex canker sore cases, it's best to seek out medical attention.
What are the most common canker sore treatments?
While complex canker sores require far more extensive medical care like oral medications or cautery treatments, simple canker sores can be treated with a wide range of products, including both topical products, mouth rinses and oral medications in both OTC and prescription forms. The most common topical products include steroids to reduce inflammation and substances like lidocaine to reduce pain. The most common active ingredients in these topicals include benzocaine, fluocinonide and hydrogen peroxide. Lastly, physicians may also prescribe nutritional supplements to treat canker sore flare-ups, as diets weak in iron, vitamin B-12, folate and zinc are more likely to experience frequent outbreaks (Mayo Clinic).