Recurring lip ulcers
August 22, 2017 12:59 PM   Subscribe

What do recurring lip ulcers mean? How can they be prevented?

I get lip ulcers several times a month, does it imply some kind of nutritional deficiency? What do I do to resolve this?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it a canker sore or cold sore or something else? People get cold and canker sores confused but they are very different. Cold sores are viral and you should see a doctor or dentist. Canker sores are caused by different things in different people, but common triggers are spicy or acidic foods, stress, irritation or the lip area, or toothpaste.
posted by seesom at 1:09 PM on August 22, 2017

Are they inside your mouth on your mucous membranes or on your actual lips? Can you email the mods a picture or a better description?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:10 PM on August 22, 2017

Can you provide more of a description? Are they on the inside or outside of your mouth? The border of your lip, or outside or near your nose? Are they colored, raised, flat, indented? Lots of lip ulcers are caused by the herpes virus (generally type I) and are known as cold sores. They often come when people are feeling run down, stressed, etc. They usually last for a few days and resolve on their own. Resting, eating well, and trying to generally take good care of yourself can help healing. However, if you are having frequent cold sores (and several a month would certainly be considered frequent), you can request a prescription for an antiviral (e.g., acyclovir, valcyclovir, famciclovir) to suppress them. If they are cold sores, you'll also want to avoid kissing and oral sexual contact when you have one, and right before they appear. (Most people notice a tingling sensation before a cold sore appears).
posted by stillmoving at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

What do I do to resolve this?

See a doctor. There's likely no one in here that can give you a useful answer without medical knowledge and an examination.
posted by Everydayville at 1:15 PM on August 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

If you're talking about canker sores: I went from getting them a couple times a month to maybe once or twice a year, and much more brief ones, when I switched off of whitening toothpaste. No idea why it seems to irritate them so much, but it was a very noticeable change, and I've several times now gotten canker sores after borrowing someone else's toothpaste while traveling only to discover it's the wrong kind.
posted by Sequence at 2:00 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The lack of detail here makes it hard to help, but if you're talking about cracks in the corner of your mouth, nutrition can be the culprit.
posted by noxperpetua at 2:06 PM on August 22, 2017

Dentists are particularly trained to diagnose what kind of lesion you are talking about. Have it checked you actually have an ulcer, treatments vary with the type of lesion.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:43 PM on August 22, 2017

IANAD, and it's a little hard to tell exactly what you mean from the description -- but if you're talking about aphthous ulcers on the inside of your lip, it's not clear what causes them but some people have reported that B12 supplementation helps.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:50 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some food allergies can cause lip blisters. Mangos are a semi-common allergen. The blisters can be very painful and last several days.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:52 PM on August 22, 2017

Look at the picture on Wikipedia for aphthous ulcers. I think this is what you are talking about. I am a sufferer as well. Sequence mentions cutting out whitening toothpaste, but I found that I could still use whitening toothpaste--the real culprit was toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate ("SLS"). IIRC Sensodyne whitening doesn't have SLS in it, but read the Inactive Ingredients section on the package to make sure. Once I got SLS out of my toothpaste, I started getting way fewer of these.

I also tend to get them after eating more than one serving or so of vegetables from the nightshade family (mainly tomatoes and eggplant but also potatoes, sometimes even French fries).

But it's usually because I bit the hell out of the inside of my mouth with my irritatingly prominent canines.

Prescription triamcinolone cream at night helps tremendously--the sores are usually gone in about two days rather than a week.

I'm so sorry you have these. The pain is exquisite.
posted by radicalawyer at 3:28 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not using toothpaste with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate helps minimize them for me.
Taking L-Lysine also helps prevent them for me.
posted by Nerro at 4:08 PM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seconding that you should avoid toothpaste with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) if you have canker sores. I was plagued with these since I was a kid until I started using SLS-free toothpaste. Most regular commercial brands have it but you can usually find SLS-free toothpaste in health food stores. I did find some recently at a regular pharmacy.
posted by mareli at 4:37 PM on August 22, 2017

If they are cold sores, which means they start tingly and you develop blisters that weep and it takes two weeks to get past, and it's super gross, that's a cold sore. I get them. *On my nose.* It's great. If that's what it is the magic word to ask your doctor about is 'acyclovir'. I am not a paid shill for the pharmaceutical industry, just someone who had no idea what the hell that was for a good five years. Also, if that's the deal, opposed to canker sores -- it's highly contagious. No sharing towels, wash your hands constantly to protect your loved ones. Also, if that is indeed what you have, the anti-viral whatever cuts your time to relief to about two days and cuts the 'I can't believe this is getting worse' to about six hours.

It's a form of herpes, I believe. Do yourself a favor and try not to think about it. I do.

I think you're about to have some fun times on Google Image search. Godspeed.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:47 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

A teeth cleaning gave me ulcers (canker sores) inside my mouth, and the Dentist recommended Golden Seal Tincture drops in water swished in the mouth - worked a charm.

I no longer get coldsores (herpes) because I apply Vit C in powder to the spot + take supplement Vit C, and especially supplement Lysine at the first itching sign that a coldsore is coming on. At the first suspicion you know a coldsore is erupting STOP EATING ANY FOODS HIGH IN L-ARGININE- so beef, mostly.

I agree you need a doctor bcause I have zero idea what you mean by "ulcers" - but these natural cures work for the two causes I know of.
posted by jbenben at 10:31 PM on August 22, 2017

Not using toothpaste with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate helps minimize them for me.

I used to have horrible problems with mouth sores. To the point I did not brush for years because it hurt so bad. I was dumb but I did finally figure out that in was an allergy to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. I switched to Sensodyne toothpaste and the problem has mostly gone away.
posted by KaizenSoze at 5:09 AM on August 23, 2017

Another vote for trying non SLS toothpaste if they are canker sores, per se--some of the Tom's of Maine kinds don't have it; Jason; a few other brands but you have to read the fine print because it's in most.

Also you might turn up something if you go to an allergist and do the slightly unpleasant test where they prick you with dozens of needles. Mine showed a very weak peanut allergy and the other thing besides SLS that lines up time-wise with me going from constant mouth pain 3/4 of the time to, keinahora, maybe one canker sore a year, was not eating peanuts anymore, much as I miss them.
posted by Smearcase at 9:34 AM on August 23, 2017

« Older My neighbor's dog bit me. Now what?   |   European soccer crazed son -- birthday idea(s)? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.