Treatment Strategies for Recurrent Oral Aphthous Ulcers


Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2001;58(1) 

In This Article

Clinical Features

"Aphthous" comes from the Greek word "aphtha," which means ulcer. Despite the redundancy, the medical literature continues to refer to these oral lesions as aphthous ulcers.[4] "Aphthous stomatitis" has been used interchangeably with "aphthous ulcers" and may be more accurate terminology.[4,5] Aphthous ulcers are round or oval, with a grayish yellow, crateriform base surrounded by an erythematous halo of inflamed mucosa.[6] For 24-48 hours preceding the appearance of an ulcer, most patients have a pricking or burning sensation in the affected area. The ulcer usually occurs on the nonkeratinized oral mucosa, including the lips, the buccal mucosa, the floor of the mouth, the soft palate, and the ventral surface of the tongue. Regions of keratinized oral mucosa, such as the hard palate, the gums, and the dorsal surface of the tongue, are uncommon locations.


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