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Home remedy – mouth ulcers

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

A mouth ulcer occurs when a part of the lining of the inside of your mouth becomes damaged. The area that hurts is known as a mouth ulcer. They are very common and can be caused by many different things. Most are not caused by anything serious and will improve on their own within 2 weeks. They look like red and white lesions on the inside of your cheeks, usually 1/2 inch in size or less. You can sometimes get larger mouth ulcers, and they can appear at the bottom of the gums, under or on the tongue.

There are some over-the-counter treatments available from your pharmacist, but if you are looking for some things to try at home – Healthwords’s pharmacists have you covered.


Applying ice to the ulcer can bring about some temporary pain relief. We normally advise not putting ice directly onto the skin, so you can try wrapping it in something like a kitchen towel or a small cloth so as not to damage the lining of the mouth. Like having a muscular injury, the ice is thought to help reduce pain and swelling due to its effects on constricting blood vessels in the area.

Damp tea bags

One widely recommended tip is placing regular damp tea bags onto the mouth ulcer and holding them for a few minutes. We’re not sure of the evidence base behind this recommendation, and possibly there is some effect due to tannins and the anti-inflammatory effect of the tea constituents. But lots of people swear by it, so if you’re looking for something to try – it’s worth a shot!

Milk of magnesia

This is another favorite home remedy for many different conditions, from heartburn to constipation. It is also widely recommended for home treatment of mouth ulcers. Like tea, the anti-inflammatory effects of the milk of magnesia are noted to be a potential benefit here. You could try dabbing it onto the ulcer directly with a cotton swab two to four times a day.

So which one is right for you?

As always, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. If you’re looking for a home remedy rather than a product like Bonjela or a numbing agent that can be found in your local pharmacy – these should all be safe to try, and you can see if it works for you!

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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