Canker sores – are they caused by Vaping?

Posted by admin & filed under E-liquid, Electronic Cigarette, Health.

Canker sores – those horrible swellings in your mouth that are unbelievably painful and have you crying for your Mom. You never had them when you smoked, but now you vape you get them. Is it the e-cigs fault?

Canker sores appear on the inner surface of the cheeks, lips and tongue, soft palate and base of the gums. They are white or yellow and are surrounded by a red inflamed area. The pain usually last 7-10 days, and they heal up within 3 weeks.  There are several well known causes of canker sores: viral infections, lack of vitamins and minerals, hormonal changes and emotional stress, but is vaping one of them?

canker sores

Quite a few people who have switched to electronic cigarettes and have given up the analogues completely have been struggling with these ulcers –why? It is probably because they have given up smoking.

Canker sores are a ‘side effect’ of quitting tobacco cigarettes. Several concerned vapers have asked their dentists and ENT surgeons about the canker sores since vaping and they were given the following information: Tobacco smoking provides alkalinity in the mouth – so when you stop smoking the analogues and change to e-cigarettes, it takes time for the mouth to re-balance, and the mouth is essentially too acidic. This re-balance can take months or longer to occur. Then you add vaping into the mix – which is dehydrating to the mouth (it dries it up) this can exacerbate the condition.

It is not the vaping that causes the sores; it is the not smoking.

So what can you do about it?

Several suggestions that vapers have tried and it worked for them:

  • Change to a toothpaste that doesn’t contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate ( the soapy bit that removes oil/fat) as this can irritate
  • Some have found that either PG or VG irritate, and playing about with their own mixes has helped – VG seems less of an irritant.
  • Hygiene – clean you atty and cartomiser at least weekly
  • Rinse your mouth with 1tsp of baking soda in a glass of warm water.
  • Use the regular non minty Listerine mouthwash.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Canker sores are horrible, painful, and not nice at all. But your body is simply re-adjusting, so be gentle with yourself, know that it isn’t the vaping, and try some of the remedies above.

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  1. Joe Taibi

    It is caused by the PG/VG and not simply a symptom of quitting tobacco . I know this because as I have been trying to adjust to vaping, I have not yet appreciably slowed my use of “analogs” but the soreness in my mouth is just the same. This very soreness is the biggest reason I’ve yet to stop using analogs and switch to vaping alone! I concur that VG is less of an irritant but cannot find anyone making premixed VG only juices/flavors and it’s only slightly less of an issue that delivers a too cool, low throat hit, experience anyway.Thanks for the ideas/remedies. What exactly is “regular, non minty, listerine?”

    • Natalie Smith

      I just started using e-cigs to help lose weight. I was NOT a former smoker and I have a sore tongue and mouth so the explanation of it being related to quitting smoking is inaccurate.

  2. Joe Taibi

    In fact the soreness isn’t limited to the lips as shown in your image but encompasses every soft tissue in the mouth, including tongue, gums,cheeks roof etc. Since this article reports NO responses, I am curious whether or not my comments will pass “moderation” approval and be posted at all?

  3. hxj

    Another possibility: a sensitivity to propylene glycol. I know because it happens to me.

    I used to get mouth and tongue sores when using PG-based e-liquids. The sores would heal and go away if I took a few days off, then recur when I went back to the e-cig. When I switched to a reduced-PG liquid the problem would still occur, but not as quickly. With glycerol-based liquids, I’ve had no such trouble.

    I’ve been using e-cigs for over two years now, so “stopping smoking” is not the cause of my sores; when I go back to a PG-based liquid (for instance, when burning off the “primer” liquid that new atomizers are shipped in), the sores can recur. I have to be very careful burning off the primer, rinse my mouth with water, etc. and then I’m okay using glycerol-based liquids in the new atomizer.

  4. joe

    This is actually very interesting. I run a website on canker sores and have done a ton of research into it, and have heard of studies that show that smokers get canker sores less often than non-smokers, and in fact, there are some people who have stopped smoking and immediately started getting canker sores. I wanted to attribute it to stress, that someone quitting smoking would go through a lot of stress which could bring on the canker sores, but this points to something quite different.

    If you’re still getting your nicotine through e-cigs, then you probably are experiencing less stress than quitting, but still getting the ulcers. This points to something actually in the smoke that may be stifling the canker sores.

    I’ll have to look further into this. Thanks for this posting!

    • Danny

      I use to get canker sores all the time when I was a kid. I started smoking at 17 and next to never got one. 22 years later and I quit smoking. I got 5 sores within the first week. Something in the smoke prevents them. Same for my twin that stopped five years ago.

    • Cassandra

      I quit smoking 2½ weeks ago I went from a pack a day to just e-cigarette at first my tongue got extremely sensitive felt like tiny blisters everywhere then tonight I have two mouth ulcers (canker sore) one on inside top lip an one on inside bottom lip it hurts like heck almost makes me wanna go back to regular smoking cigarettes I used to get mouth ulcers all the time as a kid I haven’t had one in prolly over 20yrs I forgot how terribly afoul they hurt I’m so miserable even the maximum strength oral pain relief isn’t helping at all

  5. Albert

    i have been vaping for almost 1 year and got canker throat twice. i have stop smoking for more than 6 times but have never experience this canker or mouth ulcer. Thus, i fully not supported the fact that stopping smoking is the cause of this canker.

    i believe that because PG and VG is kind of solvent, vaporing expose the throat to this solvent and cause irritation to the epidermis. Even i changed to VG based, the problem repeats.

    The based using solvent either PG or VG must be replaced to other non-solvent based e liquid.

  6. kyle

    I’m pretty sure that it is the E-cigs that is causing people to get canker sores, and NOT the quitting of smoking tobacco cigarettes. I say this because recently I bought a disposable E-cig. I smoked the E-cig throughout the day, but I did NOT stop smoking my regular cigarettes. I probably smoked a few less than I would have, but there’s plenty of days I’ve smoked less regular cigarettes and had no problems. Often times I’ll only smoke one or two in a day and I never get canker sores because of it, but i digress.

    Anyway I probably smoked 5 or 6 regular cigarettes on top of the E-cig the day and a half or so it still worked. A day or two after I developed 2 canker sores on the inside of my lower lip, in front of the bottom row canines. One of these said canker sores is literally the biggest and most painful canker sore I’ve ever had in my entire life. Its comparable to the size of a dime, slightly smaller in diameter. Its so big and painful I don’t even notice the smaller one that is like an inch away from it.

    If you’re thinking of trying these E-cigs, go ahead. I don’t know how common this canker sore problem is, but from what I’ve read the past day or two it’s somewhat likely you’ll suffer the same problem, and to be frank, its pretty shitty. A huge disappointment for me because these E-cigs could be a great alternative to traditional cigarette smoking being much safer for your health. If you try the e cigs and have no problems, great, you’re lucky. As for me, I’ll keep smoking regular cigarettes and try to quit with an alternative measure in the future. I’d rather keep smoking cigarettes than have huge ass ulcers in my mouth all the time. Shit hurts…

    • admin

      Hi Kyle,

      Sorry to hear you had such a horrid experience with your canker sores. I know they are painful and an unpleasant thing to experience. Wishing you the best of luck though for the future.


  7. Paula

    I have been analog free since October 2012. I have been fighting mouth ulcers ever since. I get them in my cheeks, on my tongue and on the inside of my lips. Before I quit smoking completely I was smoking and vaping half and half and never had an ucler. Almost from the minute I stopped analogs I’ve dealt with them and they get pretty severe. I have at least 2 or more at all times. I’ve had up to 10 at a time. I rarely have a day without one. I’m starting to believe that it may be the pg that is causing it from all that I’ve read. I don’t want to switch to VG because its so thick it clogs up cartos too fast. Other than that I would not have an issue with switching. I have switched tooth paste and I do from time to time swish baking soda but nothing helps. There are times that I just want to throw in the towel and go back to smoking because it gets so painful that I can’t take it anymore. There are times when it even hurts to speak. Anyone else dealing with this….I wish you luck getting past it. I know how hard it is.

  8. Margie

    Every time I have quit cigarrettes (8 times) within 3 days I develop canker sores. I just don’t get 3 or 4, I get more than 100 all over my mouth including down my esophagus. I was treated at Yale Hospital Dermatology Dept. with steroids, antibiotics, mycostatin and you name it to no avail. One time I suffered for 51/2 yrs until I finally gave in and began to smoke again. It then takes me a month to get rid of them once I start smoking. I have now tried vaping. Instead of reducing cigs gradually I cut down to one cig a day (I liked vaping that much) and of course I got my old friends again. I increased to 3 cigs per day and I seem to be getting the canker sores under controll. All I need to find out is how many cigarrettes do I have to smoke so that I get no canker sores. Even though I have no desire to smoke cigs I will consider them my daily dose of medicine to keep those horrible sores away.

    • admin

      Hi Margie- this sounds horrid, but awesome that you are managing to control them. I wonder if you have considered anything else other than conventional medicine? does anybody else here have any ideas why you get them so bad??


  9. Allison

    Been vaping for over 2 yrs..(with no conventional ciggies at all)…just recently developed episodes of a very sore pin head like rash on the roof of my mouth…the first 2 times it disappeared quite quickly (days)..but this 3rd time it just won’t seem to go…it stings like mad and gets so sore it can hurt to eat (my teeth even seem to ache with it sometimes)..I’m using the same oils as I did when I started, so I don’t understand why it’s only in the past say,, 2 months that I’ve had this problem.

  10. dan

    I think your conclusion may be wrong. I haven’t smoked an analog CIG in a very long time. However, when I use certain juices I start getting canker sores.

  11. dan

    P.S. Not saying that not smoking can’t cause them. Just that ecigs may as well.