The specific cause of canker sores is unknown, but many things may contribute to their development, such as certain medications, trauma to the mouth, poor nutrition, stress, bacteria or viruses, lack of sleep, sudden weight loss, and certain foods such as potatoes, citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, cheese, and nuts.
Canker sores may also be related to a temporarily reduced immune system because of a cold or flu, hormonal changes, or low levels of vitamin B12 or folate. Even biting the inside of the cheek or chewing a sharp piece of food can trigger a canker sore.
Canker sores may result from a genetic predisposition and are considered an autoimmune disease; they are not contagious.
About 20% people in the U.S. will have canker sores at some point during their lifetime -- women more often than men.
Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex type 1. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are contagious from the time the blister ruptures to the time it has completely healed. The initial infection often occurs before adulthood and may be confused with a cold or the flu. Once the person is infected with the virus, it stays in the body, becoming dormant and reactivated by such conditions as stress, fever, trauma, hormonal changes and exposure to sunlight.
When sores reappear, they tend to form in the same location. In addition to spreading to other people, the virus can also spread to another body part of the affected person, such as the eyes or genitals.
Look for treatment options in my blog next week.- Dr. Cherukuri