Mouth Lesions Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your mouth lesions symptoms, including 6 causes & common questions.

  1. 6 Possible Mouth Lesions Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Mouth Lesions FAQ
  4. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  5. Statistics
  6. Related Articles

6 Possible Mouth Lesions Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced mouth lesions. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Canker sore

Canker sores are small, grayish-white sores in the mouth, often on the inside of the cheeks, lips, and on the tongue. No one really knows why canker sores happen, but it seems to be inherited and susceptible to vitamin deficiencies and allergies.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: painful mouth sore, numerous mouth sores, mouth sore surrounded by a red area, single mouth sore, oral ulcer

Symptoms that always occur with canker sore: painful mouth sore

Urgency: Self-treatment

Cold sore

A cold sore is a skin lesion on the lips caused by infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Cold sores are extremely common. In fact, most adults are infected with HSV, usually transmitted in childhood by normal close contact with parents, siblings or friends.

While the infection can be entirely unnoti...

Read more

Viral infection of the mouth & throat

Herpangina is a viral illness usually caused by coxsackie virus A. It involves ulcers and sores (lesions) inside the mouth, a sore throat, and fever.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, loss of appetite, cough, fever, sore throat

Symptoms that always occur with viral infection of the mouth & throat: mouth sores

Urgency: Self-treatment

Mouth Lesions Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your mouth lesions

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is caused by different types of enteroviruses. There is no connection to hoof-and-mouth disease, which only affects livestock.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is very contagious. The virus is carried in the secretions of the nose, mouth, rash blisters, and feces of an infected person.

Anyone coming into contact these substances, even through the air, can contract the disease.

Most susceptible are children under age 5, though the disease can occur in older children and adults.

Symptoms include sores and blisters inside the mouth; reddened, blistering skin rash on palms of hands and soles of feet; loss of appetite and dehydration due to difficulty with eating and drinking; and fever.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes testing of throat swab or stool sample.

Treatment involves supportive care with fluids, rest, and mild pain relievers. Do not give aspirin to children. Antibiotics only work against bacteria and cannot help against a viral illness.

There is no vaccine against hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Frequent and thorough handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of the illness.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: loss of appetite, cough, fever, new headache, sore throat

Symptoms that always occur with hand-foot-and-mouth disease: spontaneous skin changes

Urgency: Self-treatment

Coxsackie b virus infection

The Coxsackie B enteroviruses are also known as Coxsackievirus B, Type B Coxsackievirus, and CVB.

Coxsackie B spreads through food or water contaminated by human feces, or by touching anything contaminated with feces and then touching the mouth.

These viruses often cause illness among infants, young children, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Early symptoms include fever, headache, rash, sore throat, digestive upset, and chest and muscle pain (pleurodynia.)

These viruses cause inflammation in various organs:

  • Heart and surrounding tissue, causing myocarditis and pericarditis.
  • Pleura (tissue surrounding the lungs,) causing pleuritis.
  • Pancreas, causing pancreatitis.
  • Liver, causing hepatitis.

Meninges (membranes covering brain and spinal cord,) causing aseptic meningitis.

If left untreated, complications such as post-viral fatigue syndrome, pericardial effusion, and diabetes may follow.

Diagnosis is made through a blood test.

Antibiotics cannot help against viral illness. Anyone suspected of having a Coxsackie B viral infection should be under a medical provider's care to help manage symptoms and prevent complications. The best prevention is good kitchen sanitation, along with frequent and thorough handwashing.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, loss of appetite

Symptoms that always occur with coxsackie b virus infection: fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

Oral herpes

Herpetic stomatitis is a viral infection of the mouth that causes fever and red and inflamed gums. This typically happens early in childhood.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fever, gum pain, painful mouth sore, gum swelling, gum redness

Symptoms that always occur with oral herpes: gum pain

Urgency: Self-treatment

Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

FAQs About Mouth Lesions

Here are some frequently asked questions about mouth lesions.

Can stress cause mouth lesions?

Yes, stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of recurrent herpes lesions in patients with latent herpes simplex virus infections. Stress can also increase the risk of other mouth lesions such as aphthous ulcers.

How common are mouth lesions?

Mouth lesions are quite prevalent. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis, or canker sores, are the most common mouth lesion and occur in 520 percent of the population. There are many other conditions that can cause mouth lesions, including tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma and leukoplakia, infections such as candidiasis and herpes infections, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and bullous pemphigoid.

What is thrush of the mouth and how can it be prevented?

Thrush of the mouth, or oral candidiasis, is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida in your mouth. This overgrowth can present itself as white lesions in your inner cheeks or on your tongue. You can reduce the risk of thrush by brushing your teeth and flossing daily, maintaining regular dental checkups, and limiting high sugar foods. If you have diabetes, good glucose control will decrease the risk of thrush. If you use a steroid inhaler, make sure to sure rinse you mouth with water after each use.

Can mouth lesions go away on their own?

Yes, aphthous ulcers, or canker sores, are the most common type of mouth ulcers, and they often resolve on their own. Other lesions such as those caused by tumors, infections, an autoimmune disease will often require treatments such as resection, antibiotics, and immunotherapies respectively.

Are mouth lesions signs of STDS?

Mouth lesions can be caused by the herpes simplex virus, which can also cause genital lesions and can be transmitted through sexual contact. More rarely, syphilis may also cause mouth lesions. However, there are many other causes of mouth lesions including tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma and leukoplakia, other infections including candidiasis and coxsackie virus infection, aphthous ulcers, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus or bullous pemphigoid.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Mouth Lesions

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Do you have a rash?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Mouth Lesions Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your mouth lesions

Mouth Lesions Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced mouth lesions have also experienced:

  • 8% Sore Throat
  • 4% Fatigue
  • 2% Headache

People who have experienced mouth lesions were most often matched with:

  • 33% Canker Sore
  • 33% Cold Sore
  • 33% Viral Infection Of The Mouth & Throat

People who have experienced mouth lesions had symptoms persist for:

  • 47% Less than a week
  • 26% Less than a day
  • 11% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Mouth Lesions Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your mouth lesions

No ads, doctor reviewed. Let's crack your symptom code together - like us on Facebook to follow along.