ZocdocAnswersWhat is a mouth ulcer?

Question

What is a mouth ulcer?

What's a mouth ulcer? Do I have one? I have this sore on the side of my mouth that is painful and it will not heal. How did I get this sore?

Answer

Oral ulcers can be very painful. They can also be caused by many different things, so given that this is a new change in your health (and it is something that is not resolving on its own), the best thing for you to do would be to see your primary care physician. He or she can examine the ulcer and go over your recent health history to help determine what might be causing this sore and how to help it heal. In general, ulcers in or around the mouth and lips are quite often caused by viruses. There are several different virus strains that can do this (many of them commonly affect children). In adults, one of the most likely viruses to cause oral ulcers is the herpes virus. Herpes can present as either an initial infection or reactivation. Fortunately, it can be treated with either topical or oral antiviral medications. In addition, depending upon your age and other health history, it is also possible that a nonhealing oral ulcer could also represent a more serious dermatological condition. Some skin cancers can first present as ulcers. Hopefully you have a viral condition that will clear up shortly, but the best way to protect your health is to have your physician examine you and make sure that further testing or specialist referrals are not necessary.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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