Mouth Sores with Cancer

When your child refuses to eat or drink, has trouble swallowing, or says his mouth hurts or is sore, your child may have mouth sores. You may be able to see red, raw areas or bleeding from the gums, lips or the inside of the mouth.

Sometimes there will be visible sores. If your child develops mouth sores, she may also have throat sores. 

Mouth sores are a common side effect of some of the cancer treatment drugs your child may be receiving. The sores can change your child's usual eating habits and may lead to an infection.

  • Clean your child's mouth after meals and before going to bed using soft materials, such as Toothettes or cotton swabs.
  • Your child's doctor may recommend mouth rinse, such as nystatin, Biotene or Peridex. The doctor will give you specific instructions for use of these mouth rinses. Some of these mouth rinses can also be used to prevent mouth sores.  There are other mouth rinses and medications that are sometimes ordered for mouth sores and pain associated with them.
  • Keep your child's lips lubricated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline or Aquaphor) to prevent cracking.
  • Serve your child soft and tender foods, such as pudding, ice cream, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, casseroles or mashed potatoes.
  • Cut foods into bite-sized pieces and moisten with broth, gravy or sauce.
  • Encourage sipping of beverages that are soothing to your child.
  • Mouth or throat pain so severe your child cannot eat or sleep
  • Two temperatures of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher in a 12-hour period or a single fever of 101.4 F (38.6 C)
  • Excessive bleeding from the sores

Last Updated 12/2013