Baby Canker Sores. The Key Points to Know.

Last Updated on 3 August 2022 by Dott. Sandro Cantoni

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Your baby doesn’t want to eat. He looks hungry, but when he starts to put something in his mouth, he cries or says it hurts. Then you try giving him something to drink, but the pain persists. 

You ask him to open his mouth and see small white or red lesions. These may be on the gums or tongue or the inside of the lips and cheeks. 

They may look like an ulcer, like a small volcano crater. 

These are the canker sores. 

If your child has a lot of them, it becomes difficult to eat and even drink, and your child is at risk for dehydration. 

Usually, canker sores are present in young children less than 3 years old.

What are the causes of canker sores? What symptoms do they give?

Usually, the cause is viruses. For example, the herpes virus. But often the cause is unknown.

Along with the pain in the mouth, the child often has a fever, with a cough and cold. 

If the child is unable to drink, there may be symptoms of dehydration, such as fatigue, bloodshot eyes, lack of tears if the child cries. 

When should the child be taken to the doctor?

If your child has any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor for a referral. 

The child has not urinated for 6 to 8 hours. 

He also has a fever that lasts more than two days.

He is not feeding and drinking very little. 

The child is tired and sleeps more than usual. 

His eyes are bloodshot, and he has no tears when crying. He has a dry mouth. 

The sore throat continues despite treatment. 

You are concerned. 

How are canker sores treated?

Treatment depends on the cause, although there are often no specific therapies. 

Canker sores heal on their own in one to two weeks. Treatment is symptomatic, meaning you give medicine to relieve your child’s symptoms. 

For pain you can give acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medicines are also fine if the child has a fever. 

Depending on the child’s age, there are also solutions, sprays, or gels that you can apply locally. These products contain lidocaine and are applied in the mouth or the canker sore to reduce the pain. But, again, talk to your pharmacist or pediatrician to assess whether they are appropriate for your child’s age. 

The most important thing is to keep your child hydrated. Give him fresh sugary liquids, such as milk or juice, to drink often. 

Avoid solid or spicy foods. Instead, you can give mashed potatoes, yogurt, or other fresh semi-solid foods.


About the author

Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.


  • Edgar NR, Saleh D, Miller RA. Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: A Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(3):26-36.

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