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Home / What Is Ulcer? Types, Symptoms, Causes, Home Remedies

What Is Ulcer? Types, Symptoms, Causes, Home Remedies


What Is Ulcer?

An ulcer is a painful sore of the skin, or mucous membranes that is slow to heal and sometimes reoccurs. The ulcer can appear anywhere in or on your body, from the inner lining in the stomach, the upper portion of the small intestine to the outer layer of your skin.

Types of Ulcers

There are various types of ulcers and each type has its causes, symptoms, and treatment. The types of ulcers include:

  • Peptic (Gastrointestinal) Ulcers

These are the most common type of ulcer that occurs inside the body, affecting the gastrointestinal region. They include:

  • Gastric (stomach) ulcers; occur inside the stomach.
  • Duodenal ulcers; occur on the inside of the upper portion of the small intestine.
  • Esophageal ulcers; develop inside the esophagus.
  • Arterial Ulcers

These are ulcers that develop in or on the arteries, making the affected part have a “punched-out” appearance.

  • Venous Ulcers

These are ulcers that develop on the veins due to the damage done to the veins by the insufficient blood flow to and from the heart. It often results in an open wound below the knee or the inner area of the ankle.

  • Mouth Ulcers (Canker Sores)

These are small sores or lesions that develop inside the mouth or on the base of the gum.

  • Genital Ulcers

These ulcers are sores that develop on genital areas including the penis, vagina, anus, or surrounding parts.

Causes of Ulcers

The causes of ulcers vary depending on the type of ulcer. Causes may include:

For Peptic Ulcers, 

  • Digestive juices from food and juices that have acidic content, leading to the damage of the walls of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Inflammation of any part of the GI tract caused by infection.
  • Medications with chemicals that can cause damage to the gastrointestinal walls.
  • Sicknesses that develop high fever and body temperature or heat can affect the lining of any part of the GI tract.
  • Long periods of starvation mostly to gastric ulcers.

For Arterial Ulcers, 

  • Blockages in the arteries stop the flow of blood to surrounding tissues.

For Venous Ulcers, 

  • Vein blocks that cause insufficient blood flow to and from the heart.

For Mouth Ulcers, 

  • Bacterial infection.
  • Diseases that affect the mouth.
  • Internal heat.
  • Food allergies.
  • Wounds from hard teeth brushing.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Lack of vitamins.
  • Biting inside of your cheek.
  • Food burns in the mouth.

For Genital Ulcers, 

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Trauma is either caused by sex positions, over-size sex organs, or rape.
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Allergic reactions to skincare products, perfumes, etc.


The signs and symptoms that can arise from ulcers may include the following:

For Peptic Ulcers, 

  • Abdominal burning pains
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Belching
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss

For Arterial Ulcers, 

  • Severe pains in the affected region.
  • Hairless skin.
  • Red, yellow, black sores that do not bleed.
  • The affected area is cool when touched due to reduced blood circulation.

For Venous Ulcers, 

  • Little or no pains
  • Serious pains if infected
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Itchy skin
  • Fluid discharge from the affected area
  • Incrustation or scabbing

For Mouth Ulcers,

  • Uncomfortable minor pains
  • Slow, gradual healing process (not exceeding 2 weeks)
  • May develop into large sores if not well managed.
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in eating and drinking
  • Diarrhea.

For Genital Ulcers, 

  • Swollen glands in the groin area.
  • Fever
  • Itching or pain in the genitals.
  • Rashes or bumps in the affected region.
  • Redness of the skin in the affected part.


The treatment of ulcers often depends on the cause of the ulcer and sometimes, the severity of the ulcer.

Treatments may include:

For Peptic Ulcers, 

  • Antibiotics; to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Antacid; to reduce stomach pain.

For Arterial Ulcers, 

  • Antibiotics.
  • Surgery to improve blood flow.
  • Amputation in severe or extreme cases.

For Venous Ulcers

  • Antibiotics
  • Surgery (or compression therapy) to increase blood flow.

For Mouth Ulcers, 

These ulcers often go away on their own. If pains increase or persist meet your doctor or dentist. Treatment may include:

  • Antimicrobial mouthwash
  • Antimicrobial ointment
  • Other antibiotics, as recommended.
  • Taking food supplements – folic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc.
  • Rinsing the mouth with salt water and baking soda.
  • Placing milk of magnesia on the mouth ulcer.
  • Using topical anesthetic – “Orajel” or “Ambesol”
  • Applying ice block to canker sores.

For Genital Ulcers, 

In most cases, the sores may vanish on their own if not associated with infection. If the infection is suspected, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics drugs and ointment
  • Antiviral medications.
  • Treatment should cover partners, if the infection is associated, to rule out reinfection.

Home Remedies, Food & Nutrition.

Recommended diets for ulcer patients include:

  • Food with probiotics; yogurt, kimchi, sauerkrant, miso, kombucha, tempeh, banana.
  • Fruits; apples, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, bell pepper, carrots, etc. 
  • Vegetables, legumes, green cabbage, broccoli, etc.
  • Garlic, turmeric, licorice.
  • Protein; seafood, fish, lean meat, eggs, etc.
  • Tofu
  • Fat-free foods and low-fat foods.
  • Whole-wheat
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Decaffeinated green tea.
  • Honey.

Foods ulcer patients should avoid include:

  • Acidic foods; strawberries, citrus, pineapple, chocolate, coffee, caffeine, tomatoes, spicy foods, alcoholic beverages.
  • Cholesterol-rich foods; meats with high-fat content, high-fat condiments, fried foods, groundnuts, melon, pears, etc.
  • Food addictive; salt, sugar, canned foods.

Cost of Ulcer Treatment

The cost of ulcer treatment varies depending on the type of ulcer, the causes, and the severity of the condition. 

In the US, the cost ranges from is $4 to $650, as per the type of medication and treatment involved. Other countries may be relatively cheaper.