Aphthous Ulcers

Thursday, 03 March 2005 14:18

These are painful, rounded, shallow ulcers in the mouth.

It is common for them to recur (Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: RAS) at 1-4 monthly intervals.

Around 10-20% of the general UK population have recurrent mouth ulcers, whilst certain groups may have a higher prevalence.

Symptoms usually begin in childhood, and frequency and severity of attacks
tend to decrease with age.

Minor ulcers are less than a centimetre in size and tend to resolve within
5-10 days.

Causes: this remains unclear, although there do seem to be associated factors
including local trauma (excessive toothbrushing, banging the mouth etc.),
deficiency of vitamin B12, folate, zinc and iron. Ulcers are more common
during times of anxiety. There may also be hormonal factors and stopping
smoking might provoke an attack.

Conditions, which are associated with mouth ulcers, include Crohn's disease,
Behcet's disease, Coeliac disease, Ulcerative Colitis, pemphigus/pemphigoid.

They may also be seen as part of an adverse drug reaction (erythema
multiforme) or as a sign of a food allergy.