7 Causes of Canker Sores

If you notice that you keep getting small, unpleasant ulcers on the inside of your mouth, you may be dealing with canker sores. These are a type of shallow ulcer that typically looks pale with an inflamed red border around it. The most common location is along the inner lip, but a canker sore can also occur along the inside of the cheeks or the gum line. They can be very unpleasant, causing a lot of discomfort while eating, drinking, or moving the mouth. There are three main types of sores: minor, major, and herpetiform. Minor sores are very common.

They look like a small oval and heal within a couple of weeks. Major sores are less common, and they may take almost two months to heal. A major canker sore is much deeper and bigger than a minor one, and it may have irregular borders instead of being a smooth circle or oval. Herpetiform canker sores are tiny sores that cluster in a bunch somewhere in the mouth. They are not caused by the herpes virus, despite the name, and they heal within a couple of weeks. Though it is possible to treat some of the symptoms of a canker sore, it may come back if you do not also treat the underlying cause. These are some of the major causes of canker sores.

1. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes are small clusters of lymphatic tissue scattered throughout the body, and they help to trap and fight off infections before the harmful organisms can travel to other areas of the body. A swollen lymph node will feel like a small lump under the skin that is roughly the size of a kidney bean. It may feel tender or sore, especially when touched. Common areas for swollen lymph nodes include under the chin, along the armpits, the groin, and behind the ears. Whenever a person gets a swollen lymph node, they are very likely to also develop a canker sore.

Swollen nodes in the head or neck are most commonly linked to canker sores, but the swollen lymph node causing the canker sore may be anywhere in the body. These two conditions are linked because a canker sore is often caused by a weakened immune system. The body is busy dealing with whatever virus, bacteria, or other illness that is trapped in the lymph node, so it does not have time to fight off infections that cause sores in the mouth. There are many infections that can cause a swollen lymph node and canker sore to develop. Typical ones include mononucleosis, measles, strep throat, ear infections, and tooth abscesses. Other potential causes include tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and lymphoma.