There are a number of approaches available to control pain caused by oral mucositis, including medications. You can buy some of them over the counter. Others require a prescription.

Rinsing with salt and baking soda rinses several times day may help alleviate pain. Try a mix of ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda and 8 oz. water as a rinse. Swish in your mouth gently for about a minute, and then spit out.

Ice chips or popsicles. These can provide a soothing effect in the mouth.

Over-the-counter pain relievers for mild pain include ibuprofen (such as Motrin) and acetaminophen (such as Tylenol ).

Over-the-counter local anesthetics may also be effective for mild pain. Let your doctor know if you are using them, especially if he or she prescribes a lidocaine-based mouthwash.

Magic Mouthwash. Another prescription product specifically for use in the mouth is “magic mouthwash.” It contains Maalox to coat the mouth, an anti-histamine, and lidocaine to relieve the pain. Some pharmacies that specialize in cancer care offer their own versions of magic mouthwash.

Prescription pain medication. Pain may cause fatigue, sadness, stress, or worry, and can affect your quality of life. Talk with your doctor about using opiates, a class of drugs that includes morphine, for effective pain relief. For people who cannot swallow pills because of mouth sores, some medications are also available in liquids and skin patches. The pain-relieving drug seeps into the skin from the patch and enters the bloodstream, where it travels to the mouth.

In addition to the approaches described above, some patients such as individuals undergoing bone marrow transplantation may benefit from use of Palifermin (Kepivance). This drug, which needs to be prescribed, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can be effective in reducing oral mucositis severity during the bone marrow transplant experience.