Canker sores are open sores that develop in the mouth. They occur mostly among in adolescents and young adults in their twenties and develop less frequent as people get older. They are not only rare in babies, but actually rare in children under 10, but can be the cause of baby’s irritation.
The term canker sores or mouth ulcers, describes small lesions that may appear on the base of the gums, inside the lips, on the soft palate and on the tongue. They are not the same as cold sores, as they are triggered by herpes simplex virus infection and appear outside of the mouth, under the nose and above the chin. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are highly contagious.
Canker sores develop inside the baby’s mouth as small, round or oval lesions with red inflamed edge and white to yellow center.
Their size differs depending on the type. Simple sores are less than 1cm in diameter, most of them 2-3mm, while complex sores are larger than 1cm. They can be solitary or a part of a larger cluster of sores. The signs of appearance of canker sores include tingling and burning sensation inside the mouth, but the baby will most likely be agitated, restless or even start crying. The appearance of the ulcers may be accompanied by high fever, swelling of the throat and lymph nodes and general uneasiness.
They are most likely caused by mouth trauma such teething or accidental biting of the cheeks or tongue, hereditary factors, problems with the immune system, deficiency in minerals iron and zinc, B12 vitamin and folic acid, or food allergies and intolerances. There is a chance of baby developing sores if one parent was at some point afflicted by them, but that chance increases significantly if both of them previously had them.
If left alone, the pain will decrease in two to three days and the sores will usually clear up in a matter of few weeks. But the uneasiness can be lessened by avoiding spicy and hot foods, and foods including citric acid, such as apples, oranges, strawberries and pineapples.
You can rinse the baby’s mouth with a mixture of salt and water or use a mixture of equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide. Apply this mixture directly to the sore using a sanitary gauze of cotton swab. You may follow up by getting a clean cotton swab, dipping in a small amount of magnesium hydroxide, more commonly known as milk of magnesia and rubbing it gently on the sore.
Repeat these steps two to three times each day until the sores clear up. Don’t forget to rinse the baby’s mouth with water afterwards and be careful the baby doesn’t swallow the mixture.
Schedule an appointment with you doctor if the sores don’t disappear after two weeks, the condition gets wore and the pain becomes too severe or the baby suffers from frequent canker sores. It may be a sign of an underlying medical disease causing them.