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Pain is never any fun, especially when it emanates from your mouth. Yet, it is the body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. Along with throbbing or chronic pain, you may notice accompanying symptoms like a lesion in mouth.

Mouth sores in general may be caused by viral, fungal and bacterial infections, dentures that don’t fit correctly, sharp tooth edges and a loose orthodontic wire, Here are some of common conditions that result in mouth lesions along with their symptoms and treatment options.

Types of Mouth Lesions

Canker Sores

Canker sores can emerge in multiple mouth spots including on the tongue, inside the cheeks, at the gum base and inside the lips. While medical professionals aren’t exactly sure what causes them, the consensus is they’re due to an issue with the body’s immune system. Acidic foods, a mouth injury, hormonal changes that occur during menstruation and emotional stress are believed to trigger a canker sore.

A tingling or burning of the inner cheek signifies one might be forming. Canker sores look shallow and round. They last approximately two weeks before going away on their own. They can be uncomfortable for three to 10 days. There’s no way to prevent or make them disappear. You can reduce the pain though by rinsing with warm water and eating bland foods.

Cold Sores

Also known as a fever blister, cold sores result from the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The virus is transmitted via saliva or skin contact. The sores appear as bunches of tiny blisters on the lips. The virus typically remains dormant when a person is initially infected. Sores can emerge due to a variety of reasons, such as a cold or fever, emotional stress, overexposure to the sun or even dental treatment.

Once infected, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, a sore throat and a fever. Painful lesions can erupt in the mouth. These symptoms typically occur about a week after exposure.

Treatment options include the medicines Valtrex, Zovirax and Famvir. Apply the ointment at the first sign a sore is coming on. Once the blisters emerge, medicine won’t help much. To avoid spreading the virus, don’t kiss anyone or share utensils or drinking glasses when the blisters are present. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cold sores.

Oral Thrush

Thrush occurs when the Candida albicans fungus collects on the mouth’s lining. The result is white lesions that usually form on the tongue or inner cheeks. It can also spread to the throat, gums, mouth roof and even the tonsils. The painful lesions might bleed on contact.

Thrush usually occurs in people with compromised immune systems, those who wear dentures or inhale corticosteroids, and babies. The lesion in mouth can resemble a cottage cheese substance. In addition to pain and bleeding, other symptoms include loss of taste and cotton mouth. Treatments can range from antifungal medication for babies, diet changes, improved oral hygiene and salt water rinses.

Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease (HFMD)

This virus is common in young children. Classic symptoms include painful red lesions on the inner cheeks and tongue, a red rash on the hands and feet, fever, sore throat and general malaise. Symptoms emerge up to three to six days after contraction.

There is no treatment. The virus usually runs its course in seven to 10 days. A topical oral anesthetic can help with the mouth sores pain while pain medications like acetaminophen can relieve the malaise.

Maintaining a healthy mouth is a good start when it comes to preventing oral infections from forming. Brush and floss at least twice each day, as it helps prevent plaque, gingivitis, tartar build-up, cavities and bad breath. And remember to schedule regular checkups with your dentist.