What can be done to treat mouth and vaginal sores from chemo?

6 answers | Last updated: Mar 20, 2015
A fellow caregiver asked...

What can be done to treat mouth and vaginal sores from chemo? My best friend is on her 23rd of 24 treatments for breast cancer. She is now goes on Mondays for the chemo, back again on Thursdays for a shot and then has 2 weeks off. She will be doing three doses of this treatment. She just finished her second dose and will be having her last treatments the week of March 31. Since this last dose she has had severe mouth and vaginal soars and severe vaginal pain. She has started valtrex among other things and is trying sitz baths. Is there anything else she can try. She has dealt with all the treatments and other pains from the treatments but this is now overcoming her. Any advise will be appreciated

Expert Answers

Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, who is responsible for Caring.com's coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions.

Mouth and vaginal sores are a common side effect of chemotherapy because the chemo agents affect the fast growing cells of the skin inside the mouth. Read more about how to prevent and treat mouth sores here.

Unfortunately, vaginal sores are trickier, but there are things your friend can do. Wear loose fitting clothes and cotton underwear so that air can circulate. Since mouth and vaginal sores are likely the result of an overgrowth of candida, or yeast, your friend can help her body get back in balance by taking probiotic supplements, which balance the flora in the digestive tract. She can also try the over-the-counter creams used for external relief of vaginal yeast infections. (Not the kind you put inside.) Your friend may have to buy a package of Monistat, and then just use the external cream.

The homeopathic borax remedy mentioned by Sundance is worth trying; some women also get relief by taking a lukewarm bath and adding Epsom salts to the water. Your friend should also talk to her doctor and explain the situation, because there are topical antifungal creams for vaginal sores that are available only by prescription.

Community Answers

Sundance answered...
We use borax by hyland's . it can be found at any vitamin shoppe. they are small pellets and don't interfer with treatment

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have found that Tom's of Maine toothpaste with propolis and myrrh works very well to get rid of mouth sores and keep them gone. You must use it every day to keep the mouth sores away. Also, it has none of the unpleasant additives many commercial tooth pastes have.

Siva answered...

Mouth sores can largely be benefited by using regularly 10 drops of Tincture of Propolis with a teaspoonful honey twice regularly. A lot of green leafy vegetables like spinach, pomegranate juice and yogurt with bacillus bifidus in addition to B-complex vitamins also can prevent mouth sores from occurring.Rinsing the mouth with sesame oil can reduce the pain and aid in quick healing of mouth sores.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I had mouth sores and used liquid silver (Silver Shield) from the health food store. I used about a teaspoonful, held it in my mouth and let it roll around on the sores, and two applications later, the sores were gone.

Lillyanc1 answered...

I just had a patient with multiple vaginal sores which are termed "chemo cuts" per some pharmacists. It took about a week for the patient to finally get relief due to the sores rubbing, and vaginal dryness on top of wearing underwear all of which caused severe bleeding and irritation. Relief was finally brought about by not wearing underpants and then finding loose fitting boy shorts or boxer type of underwear. I began her on Balneol lotion which is a very gentle and soothing cleanser for the genital areas esp with ulcerations, cuts, abrasions, fissures any type of irritation vaginal or rectal. Balneol used as a gentle cleanser in cool water is found to be very relieving of pain and burning. Cool sitz water baths were very helpful. Topically I placed her on Synalar 0.025% ointment-generic, a steroid, three times a day inside the vaginal area- I had initially added 5% lidocaine ointment to mix with the synalar ointment for pain relief but it was an aggressive cancer and the patient was on a protocol chemotherapy which would not allow for the lidocaine. Ultimately, the combination of cool sitz baths, balneol cleanser/lotion,the synalar ointment and finally loose underwear such a boxers or loose boy short underwear cleared the ulcerations. Yeast, bacterial and herpetic infections were all fuled out prior to treatment and I believe the lidocaine ointment would have brought much relief- make sure it is 5% ointment without anything else such as menthol. Lastly I had recommended use of intra-vaginal ointments such as aquaphor or vaniply sensitive skin ointment to provide lubrication and prevent irritation. You have to watch the steroid use because just that- it is a steroid in a mucosal area and the side effects but in conditions such as these and especially terminal conditions having the patient comfortable and pain free is the most important. This is my tid bit. I am a dermatologist.