Aphthae - painful blisters in the mouth

Aphthae are small, extremely painful mucosal damage that usually occurs in the form of blisters in the mouth. Some stress, a slight immune deficiency or just short-term hormone fluctuations are sometimes sufficient for the formation of these blisters on the oral mucosa and tongue, which can make speaking, chewing and swallowing much more difficult.

Aphthae: definition and symptoms

An aphthous, often erroneously also written as "Aphte", is a roundish-oval painful mucosal lesion that occurs acutely and is usually lens-sized. The inflammatory mucosal defect is surrounded by a red yard, on which a whitish coating of blood clots (fibrin) can be recognized. In addition to the typical appearance of the blisters, frequent symptoms include a burning sensation or a feeling of tightness.

Aphthae are produced individually or in greater numbers on the oral mucosa, on the tongue (especially on the edge of the tongue) or on the gums, sometimes in the area of ​​the throat and palate. They often occur on mechanically stressed mucosal areas near canines or contact surfaces to a brace, so the blisters are often found on the lip or in the cheek. Rarely can aphthae also occur in the genital area.

Aphthae are very painful, but usually harmless. An aphtha usually heals spontaneously without scarring after a period of 10 to 14 days.

Causes and development of aphthae

Aphthae are not contagious - why they arise is still unclear. At the moment, it is believed that an immunological response to certain factors is responsible for aphthous education.

In addition to the gastrointestinal complaints and many other illnesses (common cold, Crohn's disease) sufferers note an increase in the occurrence of aphthae after eating certain foods (for example, nuts, citrus fruits) or medication. Cycle-dependent hormone fluctuations and emotional stress such as stress or depressed mood can also lead to aphthous ulcers.

In addition, iron, folic acid or vitamin deficiencies and the use of certain toothpastes (with the ingredients sodium lauryl sulfate or triclosan) can trigger the occurrence.

Are aphthae in the family?

The so-called idiopathic aphthae, that is, aphthous ulcers, whose cause is not known, often occur in families and at irregular intervals. There are two types:

  • The more common minor type has few smaller foci.
  • In the rarer major type, the aphthae are larger, numerous and heal only with scarring.

Other causes of blisters in the mouth

This non-infectious aphthous disease distinguishes aphthous-like mucosal defects in many viral diseases (varicella-zoster, coxsackie viruses). In the case of frequent herpes simplex infection of the oral mucosa the disease is called stomatitis aphthosa.

5 facts about aphthae - © istockphoto, PhanuwatNandee

Treatment of aphthous ulcers

Since aphthae cause pain in every oral movement, speaking, chewing and swallowing during aphthea are extremely unpleasant. These ailments are relieved with various painkillers.

In addition, a careful oral hygiene is particularly important - so infection of the aphthae with bacteria is prevented and the healing process is accelerated.

Many preparations have both disinfectant and painkillers locally, depending on the pain intensity can be dispensed with another painkiller. Here are especially to call:

  • Mouthwashes with Arnica, Mallow, Sage or Chamomile
  • Tinctures of rhubarb root extract or myrrh
  • the chewing of blueberries, which have an anti-inflammatory effect due to their tannin content

In addition, the various gurgle and mouthwash solutions from the pharmacy for disinfection and pain relief are helpful - tea tree oil is used. Anesthetic ointments or gels are also used to alleviate local pain, which - blotted on the aphthea - have fewer side effects than a painkiller.

The use of cortisone-containing ointments is controversial, since efficacy studies have so far come to a clear conclusion - you should use them only after consultation with your doctor and not for a longer period.

Treat aphthae with home remedies

With small aphthae the sucking of ice cubes helps. The consumption of strong salted or sweetened foods often aggravates the pain, milk reduces them.

Patients also recommend home remedies for treatment - as their effectiveness is not proven by studies, they are usually not recommended by the doctor. The tips range from eating half a raw onion daily, to taking zinc, calcium or folic acid tablets, to having your own urine treatment, to drinking lemon juice or cola or to the very painful application of salt crystals - but perhaps one of these tips will help you if other means fail.

Prevention of aphthae

Concerned persons should as far as possible avoid the factors that can cause aphthae: The consumption of nuts or citrus fruits should be limited and strengthen your immune system through a healthy and vitamin-rich diet.

In addition, Swedish scientists have found that half of those affected can avoid aphthae by using a long-lasting medical toothpaste that contains pharmaceutical orange oil and the active ingredient glycyrrhizin. This remedy is now also available in Germany.

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