Aphthous ulcer physical examination

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Aphthous ulcer Microchapters


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: José Eduardo Riceto Loyola Junior, M.D.[2]


Patients with aphthous ulcers usually present with ulcers that may be may be shallow or deep, present in small (1-5) or large (5-100) numbers, may be scarring or not. These characteristics help physicians to classify the disease.

Aphthous Ulcer Physical Examination

Aphthous ulcer physical examination findings may be rich depending on the associated medical conditions such as Crohn's disease or Behçet's disease.

Oral Ulcers

  • Ulcers may be shallow or deep, present in small (1-5) or large (5-100) numbers, may be scarring or not, and these characteristics help physicians to classify the disease.
  • Ulcers can be:
    • Major aphthous stomatitis - Most common. Few ulcers or even just a single one, smaller than 1cm. Usually these lesions are self-resolving. Affects the lips, tongue lateral aspects and cheeks.
  • Minor aphthous stomatitis - Few ulcers of size greater than 1 cm. Often found in the back of the mouth. Painful and deeper than minor aphthous stomatitis, usually leaving a scar as it heals.
    • Herpetiform stomatitis - Least common. Wide number of ulcers, usually more than 10, with size varying between 1-3mm and may leave scars as it heals. Ulcers may coalesce and become larger. More common in young adults in the 20s or 30s.[1]
  • Pictures:
    • Other causes of oral ulcers: Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Behçet, drug associated oral ulcers:

Associated diseases

Some diseases that present with oral ulcers may present with other symptoms as well:

Behçet disease

Oral Crohn's disease and orofacial granulomatosis


  1. Riera Matute G, Riera Alonso E (2011). "[Recurrent aphthous stomatitis in Rheumatology]". Reumatol Clin. 7 (5): 323–8. doi:10.1016/j.reuma.2011.05.003. PMID 21925448.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Field EA, Allan RB (2003). "Review article: oral ulceration--aetiopathogenesis, clinical diagnosis and management in the gastrointestinal clinic". Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 18 (10): 949–62. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2036.2003.01782.x. PMID 14616160.

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