Magic Mouthwash for Chemotherapy Mouth Sores

What is Magic Mouthwash and Does It Work?

Magiv Mouthwash
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If you develop mouth sores because of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, your doctor may prescribe a special mouth rinse called "magic mouthwash" to help relieve the pain and prevent/treat infections. Oral mucositis, the inflammation of the mucous membranes inside the mouth, can cause chewing and swallowing to be painful, resulting in weight loss and malnourishment. For some, even speaking can become difficult.

Some people experience relief within minutes of using magic mouthwash, hence the term "magic". The rinse is also known as "Mary's Magic Mouthwash", "Miracle Mouthwash", "Duke's Mouthwash" and by several other names.

The "Magic" in Magic Mouthwash

Magic mouthwash is produced by combining several different prescription and over-the-counter medications in a pharmacy. There is no standard formula or set medications used to create the rinse. Ingredients vary based on your symptoms and can include a pain reliever, an anesthetic, an anti-inflammatory, an antibacterial drug, an anti-fungal drug, corticosteroids, and an antacid. The antacid acts as a coating agent and is often an over-the-counter product like Maalox. Flavoring can be added by your pharmacist to help the mouthwash taste better.

Side Effects of Magic Mouthwash

If the mouthwash formula you have been prescribed contains an anesthetic like lidocaine, you may experience numbing of the tongue, inside of the cheeks, and throat.

While a numb mouth may relieve any pain you may be experiencing, it may be easy to choke on food and bite your tongue because of the reduced sensation.

You may also experience a burning or tingling sensation inside of your mouth after using magic mouthwash. This side effect is temporary and usually goes away after a few minutes.

It can be especially bothersome for small children who may want water after using the mouthwash to help alleviate the burning or tingling sensation. It is not advised that you drink or eat for about 30 minutes after using the mouthwash.

If you do find the burning/tingling sensation to be too uncomfortable, you may try swishing a small amount of your dosage first and allow the mouth to become numb. Once the mouth is numb, swish the remaining amount of your dosage and spit. Some people find it makes a difference, while others do not. If you experience a lot of discomfort from the burning/tingling sensation, talk to your doctor.

How to Use Magic Mouthwash

Magic mouthwash is dispensed in a liquid form. You use it just like a regular mouthwash by swishing it around in your mouth and spitting it out. If you have sores or discomfort in the back of the mouth or throat, you may have to gargle with the mouthwash to reach the affected areas. Most formulas require you to keep in the mouth for 1-2 minutes, every 4-6 hours.

Depending on your symptoms, you may be advised to swallow the mouthwash. If you are advised to swallow the rinse, you may experience nausea, constipation, and/or drowsiness.

Insurance Coverage of Magic Mouthwash

Since magic mouthwash is not a drug itself, but a combination of drugs, insurance coverage varies based on your medical or pharmacy plan. Some or all of the medication used in your specific formula may be covered if they are in your health insurance provider's formulary. If you have any questions about insurance coverage, consult your pharmacy. If any medications are not covered by your provider, you can always ask your doctor if there is an acceptable substitute.


Chemotherapy and Your Mouth. Cancer Treatment and Oral Health. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Oral Mucositis. Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation (PDQ®). National Cancer Institute.

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