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What is Magic Mouthwash?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Magic mouthwash is a specially formulated mixture of ingredients prescribed by a doctor and then compounded by a pharmacist. Magic mouthwash is used to treat various types of mouth and esophagus pain, especially in cancer patients or those who have recently undergone chemotherapy. There are a variety of ingredients that may be included in this mouthwash, depending on the patient's individual symptoms, and each doctor will likely have a preferred mixture. Common ingredients include numbing agents, antihistamines, and antibiotics.

The three most common ingredients found in magic mouthwash include a numbing agent known as lidocaine, a liquid antacid, and an antihistamine. In some cases, other medications may be used as well. Depending on the condition being treated, antibiotics or steroid medications may be added to the mouthwash.

Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, may help to relive mouth pain. Antacids help the mouthwash mixture coat the entire affected area. Lidocaine works to provide a temporary numbing effect. Steroid medications or antibiotics may be added to the mixture if inflammation or infection is present. The patient should not eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes after using this mixture.

Common medical conditions that may be treated by magic mouthwash include sore throat, ulcers or sores in the mouth or esophagus, and infection. This mouthwash may be used to soothe pain or to reduce inflammation. In cases of infections involving the mouth, added antibiotics may help to kill harmful bacteria. Antifungal medications may be added if a yeast infection is present.

Magic mouthwash is typically swished around in the mouth for a few seconds before being spit out. If the pain or sores are in the back portion of the mouth, the mixture may be gargled and then spit out. For problems affecting the esophagus, it may be necessary to gargle with the mixture before swallowing it. The prescribing physician will issue specific instructions on how the medication mixture is to be used.

The patient should discuss the ingredients of the mixture with the doctor prior to usage. If there are any allergies or sensitivities to any of the ingredients, the doctor should be notified. If any negative side effects develop after using the mixture, the doctor should be notified right away. Adult antihistamines often contain alcohol, which may sometimes cause a temporary increase in discomfort when coming into contact with irritated mucous membranes. If this is a concern, a pediatric version of the medication can be requested.

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Discussion Comments
By anon995603 — On May 12, 2016

My doctor made me swallow this stuff when I was inpatient for chest pain. I wish I never did. It gave me the worst stomach pain and cramps fall over my intestines for almost 10 days. I also have neuropathy so it basically paralyzed my stomach function and I had the worst constipation on top of the pain. So be careful if you are asked to swallow this stuff.

By turquoise — On Dec 20, 2011

I had a bad case of mouth blisters and sores while I was in Europe last year. I went to the doctor and asked for a magic mouthwash prescription. He had no idea what I was talking about! He thought it was a mouthwash brand.

I explained to him how it works but he still didn't prescribe it for me. When I came back to the States, I was still dealing with horrible mouth sores. My doctor prescribed a magic mouthwash with anti-fungal medication and the sores went away in one week. I just love this mouthwash, Europe needs to adapt this too.

By burcidi — On Dec 20, 2011

@burcinc-- No, canker sores are not bacterial. It's caused by various things like vitamin deficiency, acidic foods and so forth. The mouthwash doesn't need antibiotics for that.

I also use the same magic mouthwash that your doctor prescribed. Mine was prescribed for sore throat and it's the best mouthwash I've ever used! I believe the antihistamine helps reduce swelling and redness and that's why it's included.

Antibiotics and anti-fungals would only be included if the problem is caused by bacteria and fungi.

By burcinc — On Dec 19, 2011

My doctor prescribed a magic mouthwash to me because I get canker sores fairly often and it's really painful and difficult to eat. He told me that it has lidocaine, benadryl and mylanta. I guess the benadryl is the antihistamine right?

I don't really understand how this is supposed to help my mouth sores though because aren't canker sores caused by bacteria? Shouldn't my magic mouthwash have an anti-bacterial in it as well?

I think it's really great that I have a mouthwash made especially for my problem, I just don't know if this magic mouthwash recipe is the norm for mouth sores.

Has anyone else been given a magic mouthwash for canker sores? What were the ingredients in yours?

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