6 Canker Sore Treatments that Actually Work

A canker sore can pop up anywhere in your mouth at any time. Although there’s no surefire way of preventing this irritating condition, there are a number of canker sore treatments at your disposal-some of which you’ve likely already got at home.

6 Canker Sore Treatments that Actually WorkPhoto: ShutterStock

1. Benadryl with milk of magnesia 

You can find liquid Benadryl in the children’s section of the drugstore. Mix 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) of Benadryl liquid with 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) milk of magnesia, swish it in your mouth for 1 minute, then spit it out. Repeat this 4 to 6 times a day. The anti-inflammatory benefits of Benadryl help speed healing, while the milk of magnesia coats the canker sore and neutralizes acid in the mouth, helping reduce pain. Don’t eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after this treatment.

2. Painkilling gel with licorice 

Take a painkilling gel, such as Anbesol, and mix it with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) powder, which is available in natural food stores. Apply the mixture to the canker sore hourly while you’re awake. Licorice powder is recommended for its wound-healing properties. (One Indian study found it healed canker sores within 3 days.) The powder doesn’t numb the pain, however, which is why we suggest mixing it with Anbesol. The gel also helps the powder stick to the canker sore.

3. Ibuprofen

If other remedies aren’t working for you, you can also take 400 to 600 milligrams of ibuprofen. Although it won’t make the sore go away any faster, the ibuprofen does help with pain.

4. Zinc lozenges

Sucking on a zinc lozenge 4 to 6 times a day may help tame any virus associated with the canker sore and minimize pain.

5. Prescription drugs 

Ask your doctor for a prescription for Kenalog (triamcinolone 0.1%). Applying this anti-inflammatory cream 2 to 4 times a day coats the canker sore and will speed healing.

6. Time

Take a minimalist approach: do nothing and the canker sores will disappear on their own within 10 to 14 days. 

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