How are aphthous stomatitis (canker sore) categorized?

Updated: Sep 25, 2020
  • Author: Ginat W Mirowski, MD, DMD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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The clinical presentation of aphthous ulcers is defined by the number of recurrences and severity of disease. Clinically, the number and size of the ulcers are the two main criteria used to divide ulcers into three forms: minor, major, and herpetiform. Simple aphthae are common and considered mild, with 1-4 episodes per year. In general, there are few lesions of the minor or herpetiform form. In contrast, complex aphthosis has a severe clinical course, with an almost continuous presence of minor or major ulcers. These may be debilitating and may also involve the genitalia of both men and women. It is imperative that these patients be evaluated to rule out Behçet disease as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

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