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June 16, 1962


JAMA. 1962;180(11):966-967. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050240062015

The tortured trail of inquiry into the etiology of recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores) has led from the gastroenterologist to the allergist and from the oral surgeon to the dermatologist. A carefully arranged study of the role of hypersensitivity and particularly food allergy was recently achieved by the joint efforts of dental and medical research. Ship, Merritt, and Stanley have reported1 the results of an intensive study of 150 patients with a diagnosis of recurrent aphthous ulcers.

This disease is characterized by recurrent painful ulcerations which appear on the mucosal surfaces of lips, cheeks, tongue, palate, gingivae, pharynx, and occasionally on conjunctival, genital, and anal surfaces. The small, painful, 2- to 3-mm. ulcerations in severe cases may attain a size of 30 to 40 mm. When these lesions appear on the lips, they may be differentiated from recurrent herpes labialis, or fever blisters, by the location of the eruptions.