Canker Sores
Natural Remedies

Cure Canker Sores with Inexpensive Home Remedies

| Modified on Oct 14, 2023
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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!

Acidic Foods = Avoid

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Joe (Ft Lauderdale, Florida) on 01/04/2008

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

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

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~

Replied by Sandy

Need help. I do not know what is canker sore. But I had tooth pain for two days, (actually dentist suggested me root canal). After I took pain killer, the tooth pain has gone, but I can feel that there is swelling inside my cheek and sometimes the pain is felt in the ear too. it is painful. Please help

Mama to Many

Hi Sandy, A canker sore is an ulcer in the mouth but isn't caused by an infected tooth. It sounds like you may be dealing with infected teeth which can also cause an ulcer on the gum and the pain you describe. Charcoal is something you can use for infected teeth, but I would look on this page ( for more details about treating infected teeth. You can use pain medication to help, but that won't help to cure it, just help you bear it. I'm sorry! I know it is so painful. I hope you can get relief from the remedies on that page soon. ~Mama to Many~

Aloe Vera

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Jordan (Binghamton) on 08/19/2005

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

Replied by jen
(corning, NY and Italy)

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.

Alum, H2O2, Aspirin

1 User Review

Posted by BC Boy (Smithers, Canada) on 05/17/2008

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!!

Avoid All Products With Citric Acid

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jon (Defiance, OH) on 03/03/2007

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Gs In Va (Richmond, Va) on 06/16/2011

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jesse (Wasilla, Alaska) on 03/27/2007

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.

Replied by Susan
(Portage, Pa)

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Win (Gainesville, FL) on 01/31/2007

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Charlie (Mason, New Hampshire) on 11/25/2008

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

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Mar (New Zealand) on 07/29/2019

Avoid Sodium Laurel Sulphate in foaming toothpaste, cleansers etc. I am a 58 year old female and have suffered on and off with canker sores (aka mouth ulcers) since my teens, although sometimes going for long periods with none. However I have recently had two cankers on the gums of my lower front teeth which just will not go away. Normally a canker sore would last about a week, but I have had these for approximately six weeks. I have been doing extensive research and believe I have discovered the cause : sodium laurel sulphate (SLS). I was using hydrogen peroxide on the sores for healing and also using a purchased baking soda toothpaste,, but did not realise the toothpaste contained SLS. I have also been using a foaming cleanser with SLS on my face which may or may not contribute to the issue. I believe I have developed a sensitivity to SLS and will now need to avoid it. Just thought that might help someone.

Avoid SLS Toothpaste
Posted by Homero (New York) on 04/25/2016

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.

Replied by Jhawaii

What toothpaste did you switch to? I'm looking for a good toothpaste, and if it can help us stop having canker sores, that would be great!

Replied by Salomon
(New York)

I don't know if I am allowed to say here, but it is Swanson toothpaste. It is really good and affordable. The taste is much better than other I have tried.

Avoid SLS Toothpaste
Posted by Dave (Columbus, Usa) on 04/28/2013

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Lala (Eastern Shore, Va) on 11/18/2010

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

15 User Reviews
5 star (13) 
4 star (1) 
1 star (1) 

Posted by Redeemed 2004 (Nashville, Tn) on 04/13/2018

Since childhood I have suffered from mouth ulcers. Usually rinsing with H2O2 works by rinsing several times a day and before going to bed. The next day the ulcer is nearly gone or completely gone. But not this time! Sometimes when my seasonal allergies kick in I get a patch of ulcers. This spring has been the worst ever. Ulcers popped up on the left side of my mouth on the cheeks, gums and under the tongue. So painful and the H2O2 was not working at all. So I came back to this site where I have learned so much over the years -- thanks to all the contributors! Decided to attack the ulcers by taking Echinacea, Lysine 2000-3000 mgs per day on an empty stomach and applying baking soda to all the areas. The first day I got immediate relief from the pain and inflammation on the left side. Kept applying baking soda all day. Slept better that night. Next day the left side was on the way to being healed BUT new ulcers emerged under the tongue and along the gums on the bottom row of teeth as if they were marching to the uninfected right side of my mouth. Yikes! Continued the above protocol plus brushed my teeth with baking soda and continued to place a half teaspoon under the tongue and between my bottom lip and lower gum. Good news. The new ulcers begin to recede with each application of baking soda. Thanks Earth Clinic -- God bless you all!

Baking Soda
Posted by David (Hong Kong ) on 04/01/2018

Thanks for those sharing about the baking soda remedy, I have been bothered with several canker sore in my mouth and cheeks in the last few days and they were very painful and have lost my appetite in eating. After trying a few solutions, they didn't really work for me and out of desperation, I applied some baking soda paste over the sores last night, while they haven't gone away, it did reduce the level of pain and hopefully they wil go away soon. Big thanks for sharing!