top home remedies for canker sores

One of the most common mouth ulcerations is known as a canker sore or aphthous ulcers. They can only develop on the soft tissue inside of your mouth. They are often irritable, painful, and make eating more challenging than it should be.

Even though their exact causation is still open to interpretation, tests are not needed in order to diagnose a canker sore.

7 Home Remedies for Canker Sores

There is no shortage of remedies for canker sores that you can quickly and efficiently make at home. 

Styptic Pencil

A styptic pencil is a lipstick-shaped stick that has medicinal purposes. It contains astringents and its main ingredient is anhydrous aluminum sulfate (white crystalline solid).

The main function of a styptic pencil is to suppress the blood flow to small wounds, nicks, and cuts. Due to its ability to act as a vasoconstrictor, the medicated stick was originally intended as a man’s grooming product. Before more sophisticated multi-blade razors were invented, wet shaving often caused small cuts that needed to be disinfected right away.

Nowadays, using a styptic pencil is considered a valid home remedy for canker sores. Dabbing the pencil on and around the area where the canker sore is forming can help kill the bacteria, and therefore, prevent the development.

Benadryl and Milk of Magnesia

There are two ways to make this work in order to treat a canker sore.

First, the National Library of Medicine suggests swishing Milk of Magnesia (MoM) over the infected area. However, this method alone is unlikely to help prevent the development of the sore. It is better used when the canker sore is fully grown. This way it can protect it from further irritation.

The second method involves mixing Benadryl with MoM. Mix one teaspoon of each in a small cup and swish the affected area with the mixture for 30 seconds or so. Do not swallow the mixture, but spit it out after.

The benefit of Benadryl is that it numbs the pain, while the MoM is protecting the surface of the ulcer from further inflammation.

Black & Green Tea

This remedy is meant to reduce the pain caused by the canker sore and it is straightforward. The reason it works is that black and green tea contains tannin -an agent that is capable of relieving inflammation.

Steep your black or green tea in hot water for 3 or so minutes, and then place the bag aside to cool off. If you are using just tea leaves, wrap them up in a filter or something alternative when they are in a moist-to-wet condition.

Use the tea bag and apply it to the ulcer. It can be used a couple of times before disposing of.

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is a well-known anti-bacterial agent. Simply applying a UMF rich manuka on the ulcer can not only help relieve some of the pain but also stimulate the treatment of the ulcer.

Simply dip a cotton swab in the honey and then gently apply it over the canker sore. You can repeat the procedure as many times as you like throughout the course of the day.

The only downfall to this remedy is that manuka honey is usually expensive. UMF 15+ authentic honey will cost you around $40 for a small jar (200g).


As one of the richest food sources of Lactobacillus acidophilus, yogurt is a great probiotic. Clinical studies suggest that eating 4 tablespoons of yogurt a day can help prevent outbreaks of ulcers in the mouth.

If you already have an active canker sore, you can double that number and consume 8 or so tablespoons of probiotic-rich yogurt every day. Unfortunately, applying the fermented milk directly to the ulcer will not help its healing process.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Besides being used to whiten your teeth, hydrogen peroxide can be a powerful ally against canker sore invasions.

You will need to mix a tablespoon of a 3% hydrogen peroxide in a small glass of warm water (150ml). Swish this mixture over your sores and spit it out. You can do this 3-4 times a day.

This type of peroxide is used in many dental products and it has proven to be very effective in disinfecting wounds.

Silver Nitrate

Silver nitrate sticks are available at most pharmacies and there is no need for a prescription. Applying this chemical agent to the canker sore will help lessen the pain while transforming the wound. Eventually, the ulcer will heal faster.

Research shows that using silver nitrate is mostly beneficial for deadening the pain from ulcers.

Preventing Canker Sores

Canker sores are not just annoying and painful, they are a sign of a weakened immune system and usually a poor diet. Sometimes, they could be a sign of poor overall hygiene (not just oral). So, here are some things you need to be mindful of:

  • Do not touch your mouth if you have not washed your hands. Especially the inside of your mouth.
  • Monitor what you eat. If you are experiencing canker sore outbreaks too often, start keeping a diary of the foods you eat every day. This will help narrow down the list.
  • Keep a healthy diet. Nutritional deficiency leads to a weakened immune system. Canker sores are especially noticeable in people who are low on vitamin B12.
  • Avoid spicy and hot foods when you have a canker sore.
  • Reduce stress levels. I would love to write more on this topic, as soon as I figure out how to do this myself!

Find out if you have a canker sore or cold sore (herpes) because they are quite different and as such, require different medication.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.