During chemotherapy, you may find that your mouth may develop mouth sores. This generally happens 7-10 days after certain chemotherapy treatments. This can be very painful and make it difficult to eat. In addition, if not taken care of, the mouth sores can be a source of infection. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help ease this discomfort and prevent infection. Remember, mouth sores are temporary and usually resolve once your blood counts improve or chemotherapy is completed.
Simple treatments you can do at home:
- Sores on lips: a small amount of Vitamin E can help. Puncture a 500u Vitamin E capsule and squeeze the contents on to the ulcer 3 times a day.
- Mouth care: 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a quart of tap water, rinse and spit after each meal or anytime. It has healing potential and prevents infections.
What to avoid:
- Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. It can worsen the sores in your mouth
- Tart, acidic or salty foods and drinks: such as citrus fruit juices (grapefruit, orange, lime), pickled and vinegary foods, tomato based foods and some canned broths
- Spices: chili powder, cloves, curry, hot sauces, nutmeg and pepper
- Rough textured foods: dry toast, granola, raw fruits and vegetables
What to do:
- Cut foods into small pieces
- Drink nutritious liquids, rich in protein
- Try chewing sugar free gum or suck on sugar free candies
- Eat foods at room temperature or try to eat cold food
- Use a soft toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste (such as the ones used for children)
- Drink through a straw and use plastic utensils to avoid metallic taste
Shopping list for sore mouth:
- Applesauce, bananas, watermelon, and other soft fruits
- Cottage cheese, milk shakes, smoothies, scrambled eggs, bread
- Pudding, cooked cereals such as oatmeal and grits
- Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or mashed vegetables
- Nutritional drink supplement (Ensure, Boost)
- Popsicles, frozen whipped toppings, puddings, flavored gelatins
Sometimes you may need extra assistance with relieving the discomfort. Ask your doctor or NP for other treatments that may help you, such as:
- Magic mouth wash: equal parts Xylocaine, Benadryl, and Maalox – swish and swallow 1 teaspoon every 4 hours as needed
- You may have an underlying infection and may need antibiotics or fungal oral treatments
Ask your doctor about anesthetic lozenges and sprays that can numb your mouth and throat long enough for you to eat meals.