Help! What are Those Sore Spots in my Mouth? Dealing with Herpetiform Canker Sores

A painful sensation in your mouth while eating and drinking, or worse, while sitting still, may send you to the nearest mirror for a look at what exactly is going on. When you take a peek, do you see a collection of tiny sores, clustered together? If you do, you’re likely to be concerned.

These tiny sores are a condition known as herpetiform canker sores. Here’s what you need to know about what causes these sores, whether they are contagious, and how to treat them.

What are Herpetiform Canker Sores?

Herpetiform canker sores are small sores, about the size of a pencil point or the head of a pin, that develop in clusters, sometimes as many as 100. Although their name contains the same word root as herpes, they are not caused by the herpes virus. This particular type of canker sore is fairly uncommon, and, unusually for canker sores, is more common in older people. Sometimes, the clusters of small herpetiform canker sores will merge into one larger sore, so it’s important to track the development of the sore(s) and share any changes you observe with your dental care team or your doctor if you seek treatment so they have the best picture of your condition and can provide you with the best care possible.

Are Herpetiform Canker Sores Contagious?

Like other forms of canker sores, they are not contagious. Even when you have an active outbreak of canker sores, they are not passed from person to person. Still, there is room for caution here. Even though herpetiform canker sores are not contagious, they can closely resemble cold sores and other conditions that can be passed from person to person. It’s important to be certain that you have canker sores if you want to avoid the potential of passing on a contagious condition to anyone else. If you have any doubts, check in with your doctor or a dental care professional.

What Causes Herpetiform Canker Ulcers?

It’s not always clear why canker sores develop. They are commonly found with certain other conditions or circumstances. First and foremost, they can be caused by injuries in the mouth, including injuries from brushing too hard or biting the inside of the mouth. They are also associated with certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia, and stress. They can even be a sign of an autoimmune disease or an allergic reaction

How Do You Treat Herpetiform Canker Ulcers?

In most cases, this type of sore clears up on its own without further treatment. It commonly takes about a week and should take less than a month. If It does not appear to be healing well or if the canker sores are causing unacceptable levels of discomfort, you can visit your dental care team for help. They may recommend a topical pain reliever, an antiseptic treatment or rinse, or steroid treatment for particularly inflamed cases. Baking soda rinses are generally considered safe home treatment and can be used while waiting for an appointment to have the condition evaluated. If the underlying cause of the herpetiform ulcers is related to a nutritional deficiency, it’s important to correct the deficiency to help heal the canker sores and prevent them from recurring.

Looking to Prevent Cavities?

There are many causes and factors at play when it comes to dental caries (cavities), explore our best resources on all things cavity prevention here.

Cavity Prevention

Professional Login

You have requested to view the site. Are you sure? Cancel

book-with-lightbulb checkmark lock Logo-Icon arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right blog-icon cart facebook find-dentist-icon marker pinterest play-btn resources-icon returns-icon search security-icon shipping shop-icon twitter youtube printer Instagram search-two play-button-circle bad-breath dry-mouth sensitive-teeth white-spots