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Cure Canker Sores with Inexpensive Home Remedies

Jul 26, 2016

Successful home remedies for canker sores include alum, aloe and baking soda. Alternative medicine offers effective natural treatments for these painful and annoying shallow lesions that develop in the soft tissues of the mouth. Even if it’s only the size of a pencil eraser, a canker sore can be hard to handle and treat. Thankfully, though, there are a number of natural home remedies you can use to achieve relief and eradicate this painful condition. A few of our favorite home remedies are apple cider vinegar, alum, and baking soda.

What’s the Difference Between a Canker Sore and a Cold Sore?

To be able to treat a canker sore, you need to know how to determine whether it is a canker sore or a cold sore. A cold sore typically begins as several smaller blisters that grow into one large sore while a canker sore forms individually. Also, a canker sore is typically yellow or white-gray in the center with a red border.

Should I Use Antibiotics?

Many doctors prescribe antibiotics for canker sores, but the problem is that they only offer temporary relief. Additionally, antibiotics can initiate a treatment cycle that makes the sore a recurrent issue. Also, you could become resistant to that antibiotic with repeated use, making it a poor choice to use for a more serious ailment in the future.

How Can I Treat a Canker Sore Naturally?

Natural treatments, on the other hand, actually heal the sore and prevent reoccurrence. Three of the best natural home remedies are apple cider vinegar, alum, and baking soda. These treatments eliminate the cause of the condition and prevent it from returning.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV restores the normal pH in the body, which is one contributing factor to canker sores. Also, ACV carries a number of nutrients that restore health as well. Organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar is recommended.

2. Alum

A bitter compound typically found in the spice section, alum helps soothe a canker sore quickly. While you’ll want to rinse the taste out of your mouth, be sure to keep the alum on the sore for at least 2-3 minutes for best results.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda (called sodium bicarbonate outside the USA) offers the same effect as alum. It naturally cleanses the sore and relieves pain. Create a paste using baking soda and water and apply it directly to the sore, leaving it on for 2-3 minutes and then rinsing.

Whether you frequently get canker sores or this is your first experience, try one of these natural treatment options and let us know how it works for you.  Continue reading below for many additional canker sore cures reported by our readers!

Remedies for Canker Sores

Canker Sores
Natural Cures

Alphabetical Popularity Recent Post
Acidic Foods = Avoid12008-01-04
Activated Charcoal12013-11-12
Aloe Vera22005-08-19
Apple Cider Vinegar442012-10-01
Avoid All Products With Citric Acid12007-03-03
Avoid Gluten12011-06-16
Avoid Hot Dogs12007-03-27
Avoid Milk12007-01-31
Avoid Nuts12008-11-25
Avoid SLS Toothpaste22016-04-25
B Complex, Vitamin C12010-11-18
Baking Soda122014-11-25
Baking Soda and Salt12008-08-10
Black Tea12011-10-18
Blackstrap Molasses12006-09-09
Coconut Oil42015-05-30
Colloidal Silver12015-03-14
Comfrey Tea12006-09-16
Cough Drops12006-11-06
Distilled White Vinegar12008-09-20
Eliminate Milk to Eliminate Canker Sores12007-12-06
Eliminating Allergy Foods12014-12-08
Flax Seed Oil22008-01-28
Folic Acid12013-04-24
Gluten-Free Diet32011-11-01
Green Tea32008-07-25
Herbal Toothpaste12009-09-03
Hydrogen Peroxide82008-12-29
Lemon Juice12009-08-16
Maalox and Benadryl Liquid12008-02-15
Magnesium Citrate12016-02-08
Manuka Honey12010-02-05
Milk of Magnesia, Allergy Meds12007-12-27
Mouth Sore Solution22007-06-30
Oil Pulling42016-05-27
Oral Care52009-11-24
Orange Juice and Fresh Fruit12006-03-13
Over the Counter22011-12-02
Papaya Leaf Tea12014-06-13
Pau D'arco10000-00-00
Silver Nitrate Sticks22008-08-23
Sore Throat Spray12009-02-09
Tea Bags32008-12-09
Tea Tree Oil12010-09-09
Toothpaste Without Sls72009-05-20
Unlit Match32013-10-18
Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide12007-06-20
Water Pulling12010-03-20
Yerba Buena12006-05-31

Acidic Foods = Avoid  

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Posted by Joe (Ft Lauderdale, Florida) on 01/04/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Burning tounge-Mouth issues: When you have burning tongue or canker sores on tongue or in mouth. Do not drink any orange juice, ketchup, sauce etc. The best cure I have found is to rinse your mouth will Karo syrup. It seems to neutralize the acid. Also 2% hydrogen peroxide.

Activated Charcoal  

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Posted by Mama To Many Donate
(Tennessee, Usa) on 11/12/2013

5 out of 5 stars

A few weeks ago my daugther bit her cheek when chewing. You know how that end up biting the same spot over and over and it is uncomfortable. I know when that used to happen to me, I always ended up with a canker sore. I realized the reason it kept happening is because the mild trauma of having been bitten causes some swelling, so it is easy to keep on biting the same spot. I had my daugther place a charcoal tablet against the spot until the charcoal dissolved. (This actually can take 10 minutes or so.) By the time the charcoal had dissolved, her problem had resolved.

Yesterday, I did the same thing! I bit my cheek and it was irritated. I could feel a little bubble. I put a charcoal tablet on it and let it dissolve. By the time it dissolved, I no longer felt irritation and the bubble was smaller. Within an hour or two, I realized the little bubble was completely gone.

Charcoal is anti-inflammatory, so I think that is why this worked. Charcoal tablets are also good for canker sores, the earlier caught, the better. I suspect this treatment would keep a canker sore from forming where the mouth has had trauma. Too bad I didn't know this long ago, but better late than never!

Have a great day!

~Mama to Many~

Aloe Vera  

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Posted by Jordan (Binghamton) on 08/19/2005
5 out of 5 stars

Aloe Vera is very helpful in the healing process, as is sodium lauryl sulfate elimination.

Replied by jen
corning, NY and Italy
5 out of 5 stars
aloe is what did it for me. i have some ingestible pure aloe gel, and put it on there probably 10 times yesterday when I had a nasty canker sore on the underside of my tongue that had been developing already for a few days. I was desperate cuz it was SO painful I could hardly talk. maybe Im a wimp. Anyway, that's all I did and had a good night sleep. Today I hardly feel it at all.


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Alum is a popular home remedy for canker sores. It is an inexpensive remedy that has been used for generations!

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Alum, H2O2, Aspirin  

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Posted by BC Boy (Smithers, Canada) on 05/17/2008
0 out of 5 stars

Remedy Side Effects for Canker Sores: I found Earth Clinic while googling for a canker sore remedy. I was relieved to find so many positive responses to these remedies. So I went and picked up several of the remedies hoping at least one would work as good as stated. I started with Alum. I dabbed a wet finger into the powder and applied it to the 4cm canker sore inside my bottom left gum. At first it stung like salt on an open wound. Then it subsided to the feeling of a butcher knife cutting into my gum. After a half an hour of this I rinsed my mouth out with water and spend 15min in front of the bathroom mirror applying H202 with a q-tip. The pain of applying the H202 eventually subsided to a pounding throb. My mouth was watering so bad I had to stuff kleenex inside my gums to dam the flood. The H202 eventually stopped sizzling so I rinsed and tolerated the dull throbbing ache for 1/2 hr. Finally I applied crushed aspirin to the sore. the aspirin burned but not as much as the alum. My mouth was now feeling like I'd been punched in the face.... twice. My bottom lip was puffy and my gums were numb everywhere except for the sore. I tolerated that for another 15min and finally rinsed the aspirin out with a cold budweiser. It's now been 2hrs later and I'm on my 7th beer and the pain has almost completedly subsided in the past 10min. So far the side affects of the treatment has been tolerable. Hopefully my head won't hurt as bad as my mouth in the morning....

Replied by Lorik
Blacksburg, Va, USA
WOW talk about an overachiever.. I'm not sure why one would do all three remedies at once.. good grief Charlie Brown!!!
Replied by Juanita
N.O. , La. USA
I really believe you over did this, my friend!

I always use Alum at the first sign of a fever blister. All I need to do is wet my finger then touch it to the Alum and apply this mix to the sore for about 15 seconds. It stops the sore in its tracks. You can also use this if you bite your tongue or get a 'lie' bump (swollen taste bud)... It works for me everytime! My neice who is prone to fever blisters found she can keep her outbreaks at a minimum by taking an L-Lysine supplement daily! Juanita

Replied by CC
Las Cruces, NM
You are too funny! I know what you mean when you just can't take it anymore and you are willing to try anything! You really ARE willing to try anything! Cheers to you!
Replied by Tricia
I can't stop laughing. Next time try hitting 7 beers before you start your remedies.
Replied by Susan
Mcloud, Oklahoma, US
THIS was my LAUGH for the day; SO hilarious! Please forgive me for getting my pleasure from your pain...(literally) but talk about DETERMINATION!!! Seriously, only one who has suffered with cold sores can testify to the utter miserableness. I'm THINKING mine might have come from drinking too much orange juice along with 1 or 2 oranges daily w/my 1-2 TBL ACV. I used to be plagued w/them in my younger years quite frequently (inside the mouth is the worst). However, this one is inside my nose and right below it. I'm going to try the SLS free toothpaste and see how that works. This is my first post on this site that I have been lurking on for the last year or so; this is a great place to come for whatever ails you. I appreciate this site and all its contributors. The "posts" AFTER the story were so funny, too.
Replied by Jessica
Jefferson City, Mo, Usa
Gargling with a shot of Jamison has helped mine, along with alum & gargling with peroxide. Jamison worked better than the OTC numbing spray.
Replied by Kay
In The Valley, Ca
Hey, I'm thinking 7 beers might be the cure for a lot of things, maybe we should start a new catagory here........... Maybe......... Party animal pain relief remedies! I'm sure it would be a relief for insomniacs! It would sure put me to sleep!!! Very funny post, thank you so much for making us smile!!

Apple Cider Vinegar  

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Apple cider vinegar is Earth Clinic's most popular home remedy for canker sores! The apple cider vinegar cure is simple and inexpensive. Do be careful how you use this remedy; some of our readers have experienced side effects!

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Aspirin is a super cheap and very effective home remedy for canker sores. This remedy is less painful than many natural treatments for canker sores; in fact, the aspirin, being a pain reliever, often takes the pain away from the canker sore as well as bringing healing to the sore.

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Avoid All Products With Citric Acid  

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Posted by Jon (Defiance, OH) on 03/03/2007
5 out of 5 stars

I don't see how Apple Cider would help canker sores, because it is acidic. What I do is I watch how much citric acid I take in. Soda is terrible! It has a very high concentration of citric acid! Milk Chocolate contains it, from what I hear, though they are not required to list it in the ingredients. I have noticed that I get them after eating chocolate, but I have to eat quite a bit of chocolate to get a sore. I have dealt with the pain of canker sores since I was a kid, often times having one right after another. I used to carry around medicines such as Kanka, only to find the stuff made them worse or made them last longer. Come to find out, I was putting citric acid directly on the sore, as many of these medications contain it! So I started with eliminating soda (I was hooked on diet pepsi at work). Bingo! I drastically reduced the number of canker sores I was getting. Next, I started watching what I was eating. I noticed that anything with citric acid in it would give me the beginnings of a canker sore within an HOUR after eating or drinking it. Then I applied some common sense to the situation, and remembered that an old cure for stomach indigestion and acid reflux was baking soda. So, whenever I eat something or drink something with citric acid in it, I immediately rinse my mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water (look on the box or on the arm and hammer website for their recommendation for using it as a mouth wash). I think the answer to canker sores is prevention, not curing it once it's in your mouth. Once it's there, you basically have to wait it out. I still get them, but only once in awhile now instead of all the time...However, when I do get one, it's my own fault now!

Avoid Gluten  

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Posted by Gs In Va (Richmond, Va) on 06/16/2011
5 out of 5 stars

On 05/24/2011: Mj from Ny wrote: "steve--i know your post was over a year ago, but if you're reading this--try going gluten-free. gluten can produce arthritis pain (severe) and canker sores and many many other horrible symptoms."

I read Steve's post about the canker sores and totally thought about Gluten. I learned I was Gluten Intolerant in Oct 2009. I had read on Celiac dot com that canker sores will go away after going gluten free and I was like " yeah right" because I have had them ALL MY LIFE. If I eat anything that nicks my cheek or gum, a huge painful canker sore would appear and take 2 weeks or more to go away. I was buying Kanka all the time to help ease the pain. If I bit my cheek, same thing would happen.

After going Gluten Free I have not had a single canker sore, since 2009. I've nicked my cheek, bit my cheek, all by accident and a little cut would be there from it and be gone over night... Never ever turns into a canker sore. I am proof and I've told my entire family and friends. Amazing!

Avoid Hot Dogs  

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Posted by Jesse (Wasilla, Alaska) on 03/27/2007
5 out of 5 stars

I am currently trying ACV remedy for my canker sore. I only have one small canker sore right now. However, over a year ago I had a bad outbreak with one canker sore the size of a dime was literally eating through my cheek. I tried everything and it took over a months to heal. My glands were swollen and I considered seeing a physician.

One thing I have noticed however, is that my outbreaks usually accurr after eating too many hot dogs(2 a day or more for a 2-4 day period). This outbreak is no different, I ate a few hot dogs a few days in a row and here comes a canker sore. However, When I had my horrible outbreak over a year ago, I was living in North Carolina and didn't have much food to eat. My diet consisted of 5 hot dogs a day and I had my worse outbreak then. Perhaps there is something contained in hot dogs that could cause this. I'm going to research hot dogs and check it out. I've also noticed that eating brocoli can sometimes cure a canker sore in just days.

YES!! I have been suffering for 4 days with what I consider the largest worst canker sore I've ever had. On the tip of my tongue. Soooo Sore!!

I remember thinking.. What did I Eat to make this appear? HOT DOGS! Specifically Oscar Meyer beef franks. But, Anything with tomatoes, pickles, vinegar, and toothpaste with sodium laur. Sulfate, will trigger them. I now use sensitive toothpastes. By the way, letting an ASPIRIN dissolve on the sore, Majorly helps the pain. I used one 325 mg, pill.

Avoid Milk  

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Posted by Win (Gainesville, FL) on 01/31/2007
5 out of 5 stars

Avoiding milk and milk products cured my canker sores. Both my mother and I suffered from sores in our mouths and we had tried many different remedies hoping to prevent them. Mom discovered that if she reduced her milk intake, she got fewer sores. Now, we both drink only soy milk and have been canker-free for years. Soy ice creams are getting better and better, too. I occasionally have some regular cheese and this doesn't seem to cause any problems. Cheese made from soy is still pretty awful.

Avoid Nuts  

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Posted by Charlie (Mason, New Hampshire) on 11/25/2008
5 out of 5 stars

I have had episodes of canker sore since I was a child. After suffering for about 35 years I figured out that my canker sores were triggered by certain tree nuts. I am not otherwise allergic to tree nuts. If I eat walnuts or hazelnuts, or products containing them or their oil, canker sores will develop in 24-48 hours. I also think that seasonal pollen allergies may trigger them, and found that a prescription antihistamine (I know, not a folk remedy) completely prevents them in pollen season. As for "cures" I have never found one, but am intrigued by the alum testimonials and will try that.

Replied by Pamela
Houston, Texas
Hi, according to the book Heal With Amino Acids by Dr. Shaley it is the arginine in some nuts that active the herpes virus that cause canker sores. It is my understanding from reading that any foods high in arginine and stress can cause this problem. She recommended using the amino acid lysine along with avoiding foods.
Replied by Trisha
Kansas City, Missouri
This is to Pamela in Houston... The Herpes virus does NOT cause canker sores. They have absolutely no connection. Herpes causes cold sores, also called fever blisters, and these are extremely contagious. Canker sores are not contagious at all. You can read all about canker sores on the websites for WebMD or the Mayo Clinic:
"Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not associated with herpes virus infections. "
"Are Cold Sores Another Name for Canker Sores?
No, although cold sores and canker sores are often confused for each other, they are not the same. Cold sores, also called a fever blister or herpes simplex type 1, are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are extremely contagious. Also, cold sores typically appear outside the mouth - usually, under the nose, around the lips, or under the chin while canker sores occur inside the mouth. "

I believe you must have gotten the information in Dr Shaley's book confused between cold sores (Herpes) and canker sores. If Dr Shaley really did say that Herpes causes canker sores, then I would ignore any other information that was in that book as well...

Avoid SLS Toothpaste  

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Posted by Homero (New York) on 04/25/2016
5 out of 5 stars

I had suffered for more than 20 years with moth sores or canker sores. I talked to so many doctors. Some of them talked to me about drinking more water or taking some vitamins. I tried everything. Nothing worked until one day I read somewhere about SLS (sodium laureth sulphate) which is a chemical that makes the toothpaste more foamy. I switched to sls free toothpaste, and guess what? I have never got them again.

Posted by Dave (Columbus, Usa) on 04/28/2013
5 out of 5 stars

I have had canker sores for a while and had tried a lot of different things to help them. My daughter started to get them at a young age too. We looked around and found that SLS can cause canker sores and we found that it is in a lot of toothpastes. We started using Baking soda for toothpaste and we have not had any more canker sores for over 6 months except for my daughter 1 more time. She missed the toothpaste flavor and she used some of a gel mint flavor toothpast that had SLS in it and the next day she got a canker sore. She went back to the baking soda and it was gone in 2 days and didn't come back. Before she was getting 1 -2 every week now none in 6 months. We just get a small bowl and put some baking soda in it and wet the toothbrush in water and dip it in the paste 1 time and then brush. I learned about it from my grandpa many years ago but never used it. He past away at 94 years old and had almost all of his teeth.

B Complex, Vitamin C  

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Posted by Lala (Eastern Shore, Va) on 11/18/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I used to get canker sores, but then I started taking vitamins, particularly a multi-B, plus C and I've never had them since. My doctor recommended the multi-B, plus C supplement. The B also has a nice side effect of improving my complexion overall. For a quick cure, however, I used to put salt on them - it would burn like heck, but then the sore would go away the next day. I also think a crushed vitamin C tablet would be good.

Baking Soda  

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Posted by Mama to Many Donate
(Tennessee) on 11/25/2014

5 out of 5 stars

I had a canker sore in my mouth last night. It was red and inflamed and had a white patch in the middle. But my son had just put a coat of finish on my kitchen floor and I couldn't access any of my herbs, charcoal, etc, since they were in the kitchen. I was looking around my bathroom for something I could try and saw my home made tooth powder. Baking soda!! I put some on the spot three times before bed. Tonight I realized it must have worked. I looked in my mouth and saw no sign of the sore! For the record, my tooth powder also has bentonite clay and peppermint essential oil in it. But I think it was the baking soda.

~Mama to Many~

Posted by Jj (Hawaii) on 06/01/2013
1 out of 5 stars

I tend to get canker sores when I eat too much sugar or if I eat corn syrup at all. I recently went on vacation, ate out a lot, and inevitably got a sore. This one was worse than usual and progressively worsened over the course of a week.

When I returned from vacation and ceased any excessive sugar intake I decided to try treating it with baking soda. I applied a small amount of baking soda directly to the sore in the morning. Twice throughout the day after eating I mixed baking soda with water and rinsed out my mouth. Before bed, I applied baking soda to the sore again. The last application caused it to start bleeding! By the next morning my sore looked more inflamed than before and I even had another one forming!

Needless to say, it didn't work for me. I hope others have better luck with it.

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe
Jj, to immediately reduce/eliminate pain from a canker sore, coating it with Coconut Oil, helps for me. I don't know if it cures it, but it's calming action is instant for me!

Posted by Darlene (Kewaskum, Usa) on 12/12/2011
5 out of 5 stars

My husband has suffered from Canker sores for many years. They would pop up almost immediately with certain tomato products and raw red high acid tomatoes. When we learned about baking soda for balancing pH, the logical conclusion was to use it to fight the canker sores. I can testify that if he knows one is on the way, the baking soda water will stop it in its tracks.