Fact Checked

Stomatitis is a sore or inflammation within the mouth. The sore can form in the gums, cheeks, inside the lips or on the tongue.

The main forms of stomatitis include:

  • Herpes stomatitis or cold sore
  • Aphthous stomatitis or canker sore

What are the causes?

The sore can form in the gums, cheeks, inside the lips or on the tongue.

An infection with the herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) virus can lead to herpes stomatitis. It is prevalent among young children between 6 months up to 5 years old. Those who were exposed to the virus might end up with cold sores later in life.

Aphthous stomatitis can appear as one or a bunch of miniature pits or ulcers in the interior of the lips, cheeks, gums and the tongue. It is likely to develop among young individuals, usually between 10-19 years old. This form is due to oral hygiene issues or damage to the mucous membranes.

What are the signs?


The herpetic form is defined by numerous blisters that form in the gums, palate, cheeks, tongue and lip border.

These blisters might cause difficulty with drinking, eating or swallowing. In addition, there is pain, drooling and swollen gums.

Fever is also present and can climb up to 104 degrees F. It arises a few days prior the formation of the blisters. If the blisters rupture, ulcers will form in their place. The infection generally lasts between 7-10 days.


The aphthous form are oval or round ulcers with a red border which signs of inflammation. The middle is typically yellow or white. Most sores are small and oval and recuperate in 1-2 weeks without evident scarring.

The larger, irregular sores due to severe injury might take 6 weeks or longer to heal which can leave scarring in the mouth.

Management of stomatitis


The doctor provides the antiviral drug acyclovir to manage this form of stomatitis. Once taken, it shortens the length of the infection.

Since dehydration is a health issue among young children, make sure that they drink enough liquids. The doctor suggests a liquid diet of non-acidic foods and beverages. Use pain medications to lessen the fever and pain. In case the pain is severe, the doctor suggest a topical lidocaine.


This form is not generally severe, and treatment is not necessary. In case the pain is serious, or the sore are large, topical creams that include benzocaine, or another numbing agent can be used.

For large outbreaks of canker sores, drugs that might be given include cimetidine, colchicine or oral steroid drugs.


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