What Causes Canker Sores + How To Prevent Them

Canker sores (unlike cold sores) may not be caused by a virus or contagious, but that doesn’t make them painful and cumbersome. While you likely already know to avoid citrus and other irritants while you have them, do you know what’s causing your canker sores – and how to prevent them?

What Causes Canker Sores?

Vitamin Deficiencies. Debra Jaliman MD ,
Assistant professor of dermatology
Mount Sinai school of medicine, explains that vitamin deficiencies can cause canker sores as well. “For example a low vitamin B12, folate deficiency, zinc deficiency or even anemia [or] bacterial infections can also cause these ulcers… If you have a nutritional deficiency then when you replace the nutrient these ulcers will go away.” Bottom line: if you’re a chronic sufferer, ask your doctor to check for vitamin deficiencies at your next appointment.

Stress. No shock here. Is there anything that stress doesn’t exacerbate? Here’s one way to help you decompress, for free!

Toothpaste. No, no excuses not to brush here, but it is possible for the sulfates in toothpaste to cause canker sores. Try switching to a sulfate free toothpaste like Jason Natural.

Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance. As if people with a gluten intolerance weren’t plagued with enough, for those of us with celiac or another form of gluten sensitivity, canker sores are common. Good news: once you’re gluten free, your canker sores will go away.

Allergies. According to Registered Dietitian Jan Patenaude, “canker sores are often caused by food sensitivities,” which, like allergies, vary by individual. Keep a food journal and pay attention to when you get canker sores to see if patterns emerge.