Aphthae – causes and treatment of the white blisters in the mouth

This article has been reviewed by:
Martina Schaale

Dental hygienist

These white blisters in the mouth, also called aphthae, affect about 2-10 percent of people in Germany and are therefore not uncommon. In this article you will learn how aphthae develop, what causes them, where they occur in the mouth and how you can treat the small white blisters.

What are aphthae and how do they develop?

Have you ever had an aphthae? If so, you can certainly remember it, because they are perceived by most people as very annoying to painful.

Aphtae are whitish, slightly reddish and often painful areas in the mouth. Sometimes they appear initially as small white blisters in the mouth before they are recognizable as a true aphthae.

How the annoying blisters in the mouth develop is still unclear. Although a lot of research is being done in these areas in dentistry, no clear result has been achieved to date. We can only conjecture and identify some correlations.

But what is certain once:

Aphtae are like herpes diseases. If you have one once, you will always get these nasty little painful spots in your mouth. And in many different places.

Maybe there is something among the following possible causes that can help you.

Possible causes of white blisters in the oral cavity

The development of aphthae can often be traced back to an immune system that is not functioning optimally.

If your immune system is weakened, for example by a viral infection or the use of antibiotics, this can lead to increased formation of aphthae. This is often why aphthae are called an autoimmune disease.

However, there are other factors that can play a role.

For example, frequent consumption of citrus fruits can contribute to the formation of aphthae. These can provoke irritation of the oral mucosa due to the fruit acid they contain. Especially apples, oranges, strawberries or kiwis are among them.

Unwashed fruit can also be an irritant for our sensitive mucous membranes.

Another factor can be stress. Whether it’s the final exams, stress at work or in your private life. Stress has many consequences – also for your immune system. Because stress is also stress for our cells. This deprives them of important nutrients that we need for an intact immune system.

In addition, inflammation-promoting messenger substances are released – and that again means stress for the cell. So-called oxidative stress! If you often suffer from aphthae, then question your lifestyle. Does your body perhaps want to tell you that it is currently too much?

Due to an unbalanced diet, you lack important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements. This may be reflected in the appearance of your skin and/or mucous membranes.

But also very hot, salty or spicy foods are not tolerated by everyone.

As you can see, aphthae can have many different causes.

In which areas of the mouth do aphthae occur and why?

Rarely, aphthae occur in the mouth in the same place.

Aphtae can form on your tongue or on the edge of your tongue and even on the frenulum. There are also aphthae in the throat or on the palate.

Especially annoying are aphthae on the lip or aphthae on the gums. Because every time you drink, eat, speak or brush your teeth, you pass the aphthae.


How can I treat aphthae?

It can take about 10-14 days until the blister in the mouth has completely disappeared. However, you will not find any ointment in pharmacies that will help the aphthae to disappear more quickly. This miracle cure does not exist yet.

You can use home remedies like a sage tincture or essential oils like thymol or tea tree oil.

Home remedy for aphthae:

Add 5-7 drops of tea tree oil (make sure it is an oil that can be used in the mouth) to a glass of water and rinse 2-3 times a day.

Try to eliminate the causes such as nutritional deficiencies, an unbalanced diet and your stress. In this way, aphthae can be treated in the long term.

Are aphthae contagious?

No, aphthae are not contagious because they do not have a bacterial or viral origin.


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