how to find medicine for a canker sore

I hate canker sores. It’s like having a ripped hangnail or a paper cut - the pain isn’t severe; it’s just annoying. You have to exercise various mouth muscles just to keep certain foods from touching that tiny, ulcerated spot. Perhaps I should also mention the enjoyable, bitter taste of Anbesol (Benzocaine). Relief only comes when the sore is numb, at least until we eat or drink something again.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I suddenly acquired canker sores all over the inside of my mouth - on my tongue, the roof of my mouth, the sides, the gums; they were everywhere. In true fashion of my typical doctor visit, the doctor had no idea what was wrong with me. “It’s some kind of bacterial infection,” he noted. Well, that comes as no surprise. How can I treat it?
“There’s nothing we can do for it - it just has to go away on its own.”

And so began my constant use of Anbesol for a month, losing an excessive amount of weight because I could not eat (everything hurt) and feeling overall miserable.

I digress.

Since I switched to a more natural toothpaste, I don’t get canker sores nearly as much, but when one appeared on my lower gum a few weeks ago, I headed to the store in search of relief. I had no idea what medicine for canker sores was called, nor what a canker sore is in Japanese, or how to find medicine for these ailments, but after some browsing (and a check in my Japanese/English dictionary) I laughed at the simplicity:


means “mouth”; means “inside”; and means “flame” or in this case, “inflammation.” Altogether they become: 口内炎 (こうないえん, kounaien, mouth ulcer).

Canker sore/mouth ulcer/tongue ulcer medicine

This particular medicine I bought says to use it two to four times a day, but my sore cleared up within 24 hours of one application. This box also says 舌炎 (ぜつえん, zetsuen, tongue inflammation or ‘glossitis’) - so you can use it for tongue sores as well.

So, if you have a canker sore, mouth sore, or something of that nature, just look for the above kanji at any daily goods/drug store and you should be good to go. Hopefully eating without pain soon anyway...

*Update* - This particular medicine actually uses a derivative of licorice root as an ingredient, which studies have shown to heal ulcers more quickly. There is NO benzocaine in it (the main ingredient in Anbesol). I haven't looked at others, but the ingredients on this one seemed to be primarily natural ingredients. A plus in my book!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

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