If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles here are written by a Functional Medicine Holistic Nutritionist. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- Did you know that lupus mouth sores are one type of sores we can experience? We can have sores that are in our nose and vagina/genital area too. These sores can help our doctors determine if we’re in an active flare-up so be honest with them even if you feel embarrassed that it’s not in a typical location.
- These sores can be red with white lines to the middle, feel raw and painful, or painless and more of white color with red in the middle. They are red bumps similar to cold sores and can be open or filled with clear fluid. They do not cluster but you can have multiple in different areas of your body.
- You have a few options in terms of treatment and even prevention! You can take acyclovir which is an Rx and NOT a natural remedy. There is a ton of natural remedies for lupus mouth sores (any sore really). An anti-inflammatory diet that that is personalized to your needs will help prevent ALL lupus symptoms, especially this. Sugar and processed foods feed inflammation and leaky gut which is one underlying trigger of pain and lupus symptoms. Some supplements that are helpful for prevention and treatment are l-lysine, oregano, and wormwood. CBD oil is one of the best remedies to help alleviate pain and redness when going through a current flare. Add it topically as often as you need.
Causes of Lupus Mouth Sores
- Acidic and inflammatory foods
- General inflammation in the body
- Hormonal changes
- Vitamin deficiencies or “low normals”
Did you know that more than 40% of people with lupus deal with mouth sores? It can be embarrassing, painful, and so frustrating. When our lupus is out of control, our symptoms of course follow. While this isn’t a serious symptom to have, it doesn’t make it any easier knowing we have to deal with them! When you start to feel or see lupus mouth sores, nose sores, or even vaginally it’s important to let your doctor know because this is usually a sign of an active flare-up. That doesn’t mean, if you don’t have any, you’re not actively flaring, it’s just very common.
There are multiple triggers of lupus mouth sores which can be overwhelming, but let’s look at it like this: Now that we know our triggers, we can try our best to avoid them by making a conscious effort to do what’s best for our body rather than living in the moment. Because, who wants to deal with this? I sure don’t!
First on the list:
Acidic foods hurt our gut (rhis where 80% of our immune system is located). When our body is considered acidic, any disease is active. When it’s alkaline, it’s healthy and in remission.
Autoimmune disease is heavily linked to leaky gut. Our gut is where our immune system is located and when it’s “leaky” that means there are holes where particles of food, chemicals, and bacteria float through areas they’re not supposed to.
This causes bacteria overgrowth and if not taken care of, triggers disease eventually.
A leaky gut causes GI issues, malabsorption of vitamins, and symptoms of lupus. Yuck! We all have some type of leaky gut and it’s important to work with a functional practitioner. They provide more thorough testing like stool and gut tests which are more precise than your GI doctor. It helps them see what’s out of balance to put you back in!
Shockingly, any foods that have been altered by man or made in a lab are #1 in ruining our gut. That’s because they put chemicals in there that alter the taste, color, and texture to make it more appealing and addicting.
Our body was designed to recognize and digest food grown from the ground, trees, and animals that live off the land. When we bombard it with foreign substances, it will break us down slowly, and then one day, we are suffering from permanent sickness!
Some acidic foods that may hurt are:
- Wheat products – Wheat isn’t the same as it was 50+ years ago. It has been genetically modified greatly, that’s why so many people are suffering from GI symptoms and become intolerant.
- Processed cereal, bars
- Table sugar
- Fried foods
- Artificial sweeteners (corn syrup variations too)
- Red meat for some people
Now all of these make someone who suffers from chronic inflammation worse.
Lupus is an inflammatory disease. Inflammation is usually a good thing, but when it’s constant, it really wreaks havoc in our system. That’s why we feel terrible on most days.
Hormonal changes like an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone or when our estrogen is not in *optimal* range, we struggle with worsening symptoms of lupus. That’s why you feel worse during your period.
That’s also why most of us can’t take birth control with hormones in it. Estrogen dominance is the cause of many health issues like adenomyosis and endometriosis too.
The processed foods that we eat can also make our body hold onto and recirculate estrogen, increasing our levels.
Food is the biggest positive or negative force with autoimmune diseases. The better you eat, the better you will feel, I’m living proof!
While these are the most common reasons for the development of mouth sores, they are not the only reasons that they may develop.
Vitamin deficiencies are connected to literally every sickness whether it’s a chronic disease or an active virus!
When we’re low in vitamin D, vitamin B12, or iron lupus mouth sores, nose sores and vaginal sores can appear. I feel like a broken record on Instagram and Facebook, but vitamin D in OPTIMAL levels will support your immune system enough to keep you from getting sick and experiencing lupus-like symptoms like brain fog, bone pain, lupus mouth sores, and more.
The optimal range is 60-90, not “above 30” which is what your lab work says.
Next up is B12 which is connected to skin and brain function. This makes sense when it comes to reducing the likelihood of sores on our bodies. Some symptoms are fatigue and soreness and red tongue. Ideally, you’d want your levels between 500-1000 when getting your bloodwork done.
Lastly, here is a list of medications that cause lupus mouth sores:
- COX-2 inhibitors
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Antimalarial drugs such as quinacrine or hydroxychloroquine
- Rituxan (rituximab)
- Immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, azathioprine, and cyclophosphamide.
What Do Lupus Sores Feel Like?
Although some people experience painful sores, it’s not as common. These are usually painless. Sometimes we can experience a burning sensation which is due to dry mouth. Personally, I’ve experienced painless sores in my mouth, but painful ones in my nose all at the same time! You never know what you’re going to get with Lupus.
What Do Lupus Sores Look Like?
- Red bumps with a white halo (painful)
- White bump with red lines (not painful)
- Can be filled with fluid
- Not cluster-like, but can have a few in different areas of the body
Doctors say there are two types. Doctors describe lupus mouth sores as red bumps with white lines that radiate from the center of the ulcer. These lesions are called discoid lupus lesions. There is another type that is white with red lines and these are usually not painful. When you have a lupus sore, it’s not clustered, but you can have multiple in different areas of the mouth or have one in your mouth and in your nose at the same time. I haven’t experienced lupus sore in 2 years, but I don’t remember then being painful or white. They were mostly red. However, everyone is different.
Where Else are Lupus Sores Located?
- Mouth (inner and outer)
- Nose (inner)
Not only do they appear on the roof of your mouth, under your tongue, on your gums, but lupus sores can be in your nose too.
What is also common, but something we’re too shy to talk about is that they can be on/in the vagina! This isn’t the same as the herpes virus 2 though. Don’t feel embarrassed or scared to talk to your doctor about this because this can help them piece together if you’re in an active lupus flare-up. Many times, lupus patients have sores when they’re flaring along with extreme fatigue, low-grade fever, headache, bone pain, and joint pain. The pain and fatigue are much worse than your typical day.
Treatment & Prevention of Lupus Mouth Sores
- Rx like acyclovir
- Anti-inflammatory lifestyle
- Supplements: l-lysine, vitamin C, B-complex, wormwood, and zinc.
Sometimes we can’t tame the fire of symptoms and we’re stuck dealing with them all the time! It’s like 1 step forward, 5 steps back. This is how doctors who practice conventional medicine treat chronic diseases and emergencies. While it makes sense to approach an emergency this way, it doesn’t make sense to do so with chronic disease. I mean, that’s exactly why your quality of life has dropped so much so, that you are known to cancel plans more often than not. Even more depressing, wake up every day struggling to find the willpower to live and enjoy life. It takes you way longer to start your day with a morning routine where most just get up take a shower and get going. Why do doctors continue to use this approach when it doesn’t work well?
Would you rather prevent symptoms and forget what it feels like to experience them?
That’s where functional medicine comes to save the day. Doctors who practice functional medicine (FM) work with you to prevent symptoms by providing care through a completely different approach. It’s called preventative medicine. That means they look at your body as one giant system that works together. So, when one organ is suffering, that means there is something else triggering it inside you and it’s related to another organ system or hormone issue. They will figure it out so that the root issue is addressed. Do you know what’s even more exciting about it?!
FM doctors provide remedies that don’t have side effects that ruin your bones like prednisone, that can cause blindness like Plaquenil, that can attack your body like benlysta or methotrexate. If you’d like to learn more about doctor’s who practice functional medicine read the blog, Lupus Treatment: Everything You Need to Know About Functional Medicine
Prescriptions that can help lupus mouth sores (or any other):
Rx: Valtrex or the generic is an HSV (herpes simplex virus treatment), shingles, and canker sore treatment. While it’s commonly used for herpes 1 and 2, this helps with lupus mouth sores, lupus nose sores, and vagina as well.
An anti-inflammatory lifestyle that is tailored to your needs works for all symptoms of lupus. When we do a generic diet, we may find that it improved some, but we’re still struggling many times. That’s totally normal.
Want to personalize your nutritional needs and want to see a real positive change in your life? check out my one on one program, Mission Remission!
Not only will these suggestions help lupus mouth sores(and others), but they’ll also help the majority of the common symptoms experienced with lupus. Making it easier to tackle lupus all together!
Foods Rich in L-lysine: This amino acid may prevent replication of the herpes virus. Foods include legumes, fish, turkey, chicken, and vegetables.
Orange and Red Vegetables: These vegetables include antioxidants, such as carotenoids, bioflavonoids, and vitamin C to help with skin/wound healing and raise overall immunity.
Wild-Caught Fish: Fish provides essential omega-3 fatty acids as some of the best omega-3 foods, which help with inflammation and tissue repair.
Clean, Lean Protein: The body cannot heal without enough protein. Try to get at least four to five ounces of quality protein per meal. Some of the best protein foods include those that are organic, lean, and naturally raised, such as wild-caught fish, pasture-raised poultry, and grass-fed beef.
Zinc: Zinc is needed in many chemical reactions that help rebuild skin and protect the body from viruses or infections. Topical zinc formulas have been found to be effective not only for cold sore treatment but also for prolonging remission. To increase your intake of high-zinc foods, consume more protein sources, such as organ meats (like liver), grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and vegetables like spinach.
Avoid inflammatory foods ( see infographic for more details)
Certain foods can raise inflammation, weaken immune defenses, and make skin irritation even worse. Avoid the following foods as much as possible to limit outbreak severity and duration. Not only will avoiding these foods help this specific symptom, but it will address the majority of your other lupus symptoms too!
Added Sugar: Too much sugar suppresses immune function and makes inflammation worse. Added sugar is commonly found in bottled drinks, packaged snacks, and flavored products like yogurt, cereal, granola bars, and refined grains. Even those marketed to you as healthy.
Read the ingredients list before counting calories.
Companies list ingredients from most to least used. If sugar is in the first couple of ingredients, that means it’s literally all sugar!
Alcohol: High amounts of alcohol suppress immune function and can make symptoms like fatigue, aches, and skin inflammation worse.
Packaged, Processed Foods: The majority of processed, packaged foods contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), hydrogenated oils, and grains that can weaken immune function. These foods tend to cause sensitivities or allergies, worsened inflammation, and essentially provide little more than empty calories.
Acidic Foods: These foods can irritate herpes cold sores and cause worsened pain or burning. Avoid tomatoes, oranges, vinegar or other citrus fruits when you have an active outbreak to keep acid from touching open sores, but otherwise, these are healthy foods to include in your diet often.
Foods Rich in L-arginine: This amino acid might slightly stimulate replication of the herpes virus. Foods to decrease around the time of outbreaks include those with wheat (which is most refined carbohydrates) and chocolate. Paleo chocolate like HU is the exception for those cravings!
Supplements that help lupus sores:
L-lysine(1,000 milligrams three times daily): Can help treat and prevent outbreaks. This is the most common one used and can be taken alone.
Vitamin C (1,000 milligrams daily): Buffered vitamin C boosts immune function improving herpes variations and lupus cold sores. Keep in mind that vitamin C can worsen some people with lupus when they’re just starting out on the holistic route. Start low and slow or try a different suggestion. This is commonly used as well and can be taken alone.
Zinc (30 milligrams twice daily): Zinc benefits include supporting immune function, keeping viruses dormant, and rebuilding skin tissue to speed up healing. Just like vitamin C, zinc is an immune booster. If you’re in the beginning of your holistic healing journey, start low and slow. This is less commonly used alone, but taken with vitamin C.
B-complex (50 milligrams daily): B vitamins help your body deal with stress and can prevent outbreaks. This is great for brain fog too! This is great to have as a daily routine, but if you’re struggling a lot, you may need to add one of the above for prevention.
CBD oil: This can alleviate pain, inflammation, and redness during an outbreak. Apply as much as you need throughout the day.
Wormwood: This can actually help with lupus too. It’s used to treat malaria just like Plaquenil, but with no crazy side effects.
Oregano: Oregano is a powerful antiviral agent. Medicinal grade oregano is distilled to extract the essential oil and preserve its healing compounds. This is actually proving to be superior to some antibiotics, without the harmful side effects. That’s because oregano contains two powerful compounds, carvacrol, and thymol, that have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties.
It’s the carvacrol that reverses viral infections, as well as allergies, tumors, parasites, and disease-causing inflammation.
Friendly warrior reminder, some of these supplements and vitamins can interact with meds, so make sure you’re okay to take them!
Lastly, this suggestion will help clear your mouth of all types of bacteria in your mouth and can help whiten your teeth as a bonus!
Oil Pulling: What is it? Use refined and organic coconut oil. Place 2 TBSP in your mouth first thing in the morning, after you drink lemon water and swish in your mouth for a minimum of 5 minutes up to 20 minutes and discard in a safe way (I like to discard in a paper towel) as this oil after 20 minutes is highly toxic. It’ll help to heal your Lupus mouth sores and help you to keep healthy gums all while helping your body detox.
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