Magic mouthwash goes by a variety of names: miracle mouthwash, mixed medicated mouthwash, Mary’s magic mouthwash, and Duke’s magic mouthwash.

There are several kinds of magic mouthwash, which may account for the different names. Each has slightly different ingredients in varying amounts. What they have in common: They’re medicated mixes in liquid form, like regular mouthwash.

Both adults and children can use magic mouthwash. It’s a common treatment for a sore mouth. You may get mouth sores or blisters because of cancer treatments or an infection. This condition is called oral (mouth) mucositis.

Children and younger adults are more likely to get oral mucositis. This is because they shed older cells faster. However, older adults with mucositis usually heal slower than children and younger people.

In many adults, the most likely causes of oral mucositis are chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Other causes of oral mucositis include:

  • Thrush. Caused by yeast overgrowth, this condition is also known as oral thrush and oral candidiasis. Thrush looks like small white bumps on the tongue and inside the mouth.
  • Stomatitis. This is a sore or infection on the lips or inside the mouth. Two main kinds are cold sores and canker sores. Stomatitis may be caused by the herpes virus.
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease. This viral infection spreads easily. It’s caused by the coxsackievirus. Hand, foot, and mouth disease causes sores in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. It’s most common in children under 5 years.

Magic mouthwash is a mixture of medicines. There are several different formulas for making this mixture. They typically contain:

  • antibiotic(s) to prevent or stop bacterial infection
  • antifungal drug to prevent or stop a fungal infection
  • a numbing drug to soothe pain (lidocaine)
  • an antihistamine to bring down swelling (example, diphenhydramine)
  • a steroid drug to lower inflammation — redness and swelling
  • an antacid to help the mouthwash coat your mouth (aluminum hydroxide, magnesium, or kaolin)

Magic mouthwash for children

Magic mouthwash made for children may have different ingredients. One kind consists of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) allergy syrup, lidocaine, and aluminum hydroxide liquid syrup (Maalox).

Magic mouthwash is available in ready-to-use form or may be mixed on-site by your pharmacist. It’s made up of powder and liquid drugs. You can typically keep a bottle of magic mouthwash in the fridge for up to 90 days.

Here’s how to use magic mouthwash:

  • Pour a dose of the magic mouthwash with a sterile spoon or measuring cap.
  • Hold the liquid in your mouth and gently swish it around for a minute or two.
  • Spit out the liquid. Swallowing it may cause side effects such as an upset stomach.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes after taking magic mouthwash. This helps the medicine stay in the mouth long enough to work its effects.

Dosage and frequency

Your doctor or pharmacist will recommend the right dose of magic mouthwash for you. How much depends on the type of magic mouthwash and the condition of your mucositis.

One recommended magic mouthwash dose is 10 milliliters every three hours, up to six times a day. This dose is typically taken for six days. Other kinds are used every four to six hours.

Your doctor may continue, lower, or stop your dosage depending on how the medicated mouthwash is working for you.

Magic mouthwash cost

Magic mouthwash may cost up to 50 dollars for 8 ounces. Check with your insurance company to see if it’s covered. Not all insurance companies will pay for magic mouthwash.

Magic mouthwash may help treat a sore mouth and ease mucositis symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend it to help prevent oral mucositis. It’s difficult to know how well it works, because there are many different kinds of magic mouthwash. Other treatments for oral mucositis may work better in some cases.

A treatment called oral cryotherapy may be better for some people because it doesn’t usually cause side effects. This treatment uses cold therapy to treat infected or irritated areas in the mouth.

A small study found that morphine mouthwash may be better than magic mouthwash to treat oral mucositis. The study tested the treatments on 30 adults who were being treated for head and neck cancer. More research is needed to confirm the results.

Another study showed that magic mouthwash didn’t work better than other medications to help treat oral mucositis. The study tested magic mouthwash combined with another drug against benzydamine hydrochloride. This medication helps to bring down inflammation, swelling, and pain.

Magic mouthwash contains strong medications. The Mayo Clinic advises that it can make some mouth symptoms worse. Like other drugs, it may also have side effects.

Magic mouthwash can lead to mouth problems like:

  • dryness
  • burning or stinging
  • tingling
  • soreness or irritation
  • loss or change of taste

It can also cause side effects such as:

  • nausea
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness

The side effects of magic mouthwash usually go away on their own a few days to a few weeks after you stop using it.

Magic mouthwash may not sound serious, but this medication is made up of powerful drugs. Follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions closely. Don’t use more than prescribed.

If you’re getting cancer treatment, talk to your doctor about how to help prevent a sore mouth. Ask a nutritionist about the best foods to eat with a sore mouth. Avoid magic mouthwash at-home recipes. They won’t have the same type or quality of ingredients.

Like other medicines, magic mouthwash may not work for everyone. It can also cause side effects. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any negative effects or if you think it’s not working for you. Your doctor may recommend other treatments or a combination of treatments for oral mucositis.