What are the types of recurrent aphthous ulcers?

Updated: Feb 25, 2019
  • Author: Michael C Plewa, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores) may initially appear as erythematous, indurated papules that erode to form sharply circumscribed necrotic ulcers with a gray, fibrinous exudate and an erythematous halo. The 3 categories of recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores) are as follows:

  • Minor aphthous ulcers (80-85% of recurrent aphthous ulcers [canker sores]) are 1-10 mm in diameter and heal spontaneously in 7-10 days.

  • Major aphthous ulcers (also called Sutton disease) constitute 10-15% of recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores). These lesions are greater than 10 mm in diameter, take 10-30 days or more to heal, and may leave scars.

  • Herpetiform ulcers (5-10% of recurrent aphthous ulcers [canker sores]) are multiple, clustered, 1-mm to 3-mm lesions that may coalesce into plaques. These usually heal in 7-10 days.

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