No research suggests that spicy food can cause ulcers in the mouth or stomach. However, eating spicy foods may irritate existing ulcers.

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Some people may associate spicy food with ulcers, but experts suggest this is a myth.

Spicy food does not trigger ulcers or cause them to occur, but it may be beneficial for people to avoid eating spicy foods if they already have ulcers.

This article examines the causes of mouth and peptic ulcers and the links with spicy foods. It also discusses how to prevent and treat ulcers and answers some frequently asked questions.

There is no evidence to suggest that spicy foods cause mouth ulcers.

Oral ulcerations can develop from multiple causes. A 2016 review indicates that doctors can diagnose 29 different ulcerative lesions based on the number of ulcers and how long they last. The research notes that the causes of short-term mouth ulcers can include the following:

In addition, people may have mouth ulcers that last longer, and doctors associate them with various conditions or infections such as Behçet’s disease or herpes. Other research from 2023 suggests that mouth ulcers may relate to stress.

Experts suggest that no treatment prevents mouth ulcers from forming. Although they may cause some pain, they typically heal on their own.

Furthermore, scientists do not know why they occur, although stress, vitamin deficiencies, and injuries to the mouth may be risk factors. Chronic inflammation-related diseases may also cause mouth ulcers.

A person must consult a doctor or dentist if they have multiple or recurrent mouth ulcers. Treatments may include:

  • gels
  • creams
  • mouthwashes

These topical treatments may contain pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory agents to reduce symptoms. People may be able to buy mouth ulcer treatments over the counter or can speak with a pharmacist. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend laser therapy or anti-inflammatory tablets.


However, even though evidence does not suggest that spicy food causes mouth ulcers, it may worsen symptoms.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom advises people with mouth ulcers to avoid spicy foods as they may irritate the ulcer. Instead, it recommends eating soft foods and drinking cool drinks through a straw.

The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) stresses that spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, it states that certain foods may irritate an already existing ulcer.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) notes that the most common causes of peptic ulcers are Helicobacter pylori infection and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The NIDDK also notes that researchers have yet to find diet and nutrition important in causing, preventing, or treating peptic ulcers.

Doctors treat the underlying causes of stomach ulcers to help them heal and prevent them from returning.

Therefore, doctors may prescribe medications for H. pylori infection or suggest alternatives to NSAIDs if someone takes them. They may also check for uncommon causes if ulcers are not due to H. pylori or NSAIDs.

The ACG notes that doctors treat nearly all peptic ulcers with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole or lansoprazole to reduce stomach acid. This medication may be a tablet or IV administration directly into the bloodstream in severe cases where the ulcer is bleeding.

If a person smokes, the NIDDK also advises that quitting smoking can lower the risk of peptic ulcers.

The following section answers some common questions about ulcers and spicy foods.

Is spicy food causing my peptic ulcers?

Experts advise that there is no evidence that diet or certain foods cause ulcers.

What are the three main causes of ulcers?

H. Pylori infection and using NSAIDs are the most common causes of peptic ulcers.

Causes of mouth ulcers include trauma, infections, and chemotherapy.

Does spice worsen ulcers?

Spicy foods may irritate an existing ulcer. People can ask a doctor or dietitian which foods to avoid.

No evidence suggests spicy foods cause peptic ulcers or mouth ulcers. However, eating spicy foods may irritate symptoms if someone has an existing ulcer.

A doctor can diagnose a peptic ulcer and treat the underlying cause. Mouth ulcers may be temporary and heal themselves or with the help of topical creams and gels to reduce inflammation or decrease pain.