Oral care

Stomatitis: 11 Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Stomatitis is a very common problem that many of us encounter in our daily lives. It is nothing but the inflammation or swelling of the mucus membranes which line the inner surface of our mouth.

Generally, these mucus membranes are present as inner lining throughout our digestive system, and they produce mucus which helps in lubrication and protection of the intestinal cells from harmful bacteria.

What are the Causes of Stomatitis?

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There are several causes of developing Stomatitis. Let us explore some of them below:

Hereditary factors:

Sometimes we might notice that genetic factors do play a role in getting Stomatitis. It might run in families.


Stress plays a major role in getting many diseases ranging from minor problems like mouth ulcers to severe autoimmune disorders.

Medication side-effects:

Several medicines can lead to aphthous ulcers as side-effects like drugs used for chemotherapy, antibiotics, seizure treatment medicines or anti-epileptic drugs.

Hormonal changes:

There can be hormonal changes in a woman’s body during Puberty, menstrual period, etc. During such phases, a woman might develop ulcers in the mouth.

Nutritional deficiencies:

Deficiency of certain vitamins like folate or folic acid, vitamin B12, Iron, etc can also lead to Stomatitis of the mouth.


Allergies to various foods like meat, Eggs, dairy products, etc can result in aphthous ulcer formation in the mouth.

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If you wear any ill-fitting dental braces, dentures, etc, it can damage the mucus membrane inside your mouth and can lead to ulcer formation in the mouth.


Several infections like yeast infections, viral infections, bacterial infections etc can also lead to Stomatitis formation.

Digestion issues:

If you have any issues with digestion like indigestion, abdominal bloating, passing hard stools, Gastro-oesophageal reflux etc, it can be a contributing factor for mouth ulcers.

Irritant substances:

If you have the habit of smoking, drinking excess alcohol or chewing tobacco, the chemical substances in these damages the mucus membrane inside the mouth and can lead to Stomatitis.

Autoimmune diseases:

There are several autoimmune diseases in which the development of Stomatitis is seen. Some examples of such diseases are Behcet’s disease, SLE or Systematic lupus Erythematosus, Sjogren syndrome, Crohn’s disease, etc.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Stomatitis?

The aphthous ulcers can appear anywhere in the mouth like gums, tongue, inside of cheeks, soft palate and sometimes hard palate too. They last for around 10 days and can occur recurrently too.

The symptoms of Stomatitis make the affected person feel very uncomfortable and based on the severity and size of the ulcers, can be very painful too. Let us look at some of the symptoms of these aphthous ulcers:

  • Redness in the mouth around the mouth ulcers
  • Painful sensation in the mouth in the area of the ulcers
  • Burning feeling while eating which makes it difficult to eat food, especially any food which has spices in it
  • The patient might experience difficulty in speaking due to the pain in the mouth
  • Blisters or swelling in the region of aphthous ulcers
  • Lack of appetite or loss of interest in food due to the pain caused while eating food
  • Recurrence of the mouth ulcers again and again
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How is Stomatitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of the cause of the mouth ulcers includes detailed history taking, physical examination and may need some investigations as well.

Your physician might ask you questions relating to your diet, vitamin intake, use of alcohol, smoking, tobacco, use of braces, dentures, your sexual history, your stress levels, etc.

Then he will examine the aphthous ulcers in the mouth to see if they are single or if they are in groups and if there is any pattern in the ulcers.

He might need to do tests or investigations to identify the cause of Stomatitis. It might include swabs for virus and bacteria, scrapings to test for fungus. He might need to do some blood tests for antibodies if he suspects an autoimmune disease. He might also do tests for allergy to identify if you have any food allergy.

How is Stomatitis Treated?

The treatment of stomatitis is based on the cause of the mouth ulcers.

  • If the cause is nutritional deficiency, then your physician might give you vitamin supplements, iron supplements based on which nutritional deficiency you have.
  • If your aphthous ulcers are caused by an infection, your doctor will prescribe you medicines to control the infection. It can be antibiotics, antiviral medicines or anti-fungal medicines based on the cause of the ulcers.
  • If any allergies are identified in the patch test, then you will be told to avoid eating those foods and you will also be given antihistamine medicines like cetirizine, loratadine, etc.
  • If any Autoimmune diseases are identified, then medicines to treat that particular condition are prescribed to you.
  • Mostly, nutritional deficiencies are the cause of aphthous ulcers. So, you will most probably be given vitamin supplements initially.
  • You also might be given a local anaesthetic gel containing substances like Lidocaine. This needs to be applied to the ulcers before having food. This helps to numb the area of the mouth ulcer and helps to prevent pain while having food.
  • You might also be given Topical steroid cream or rinse. This will help in reducing the inflammation associated with aphthous ulcers.

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