Understanding oral mucositis and the principles of effective mouth care
evidence and practice    

Understanding oral mucositis and the principles of effective mouth care

Rebecca Myatt Clinical nurse specialist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, England

Why you should read this article
  • To enhance your knowledge of the pathophysiology of oral mucositis, including its symptoms, causes and risk factors

  • To recognise the preventative measures and treatment interventions that may be used in oral mucositis, as well as the importance of optimal oral hygiene

  • To understand the nursing role in caring for patients with oral mucositis

Mucositis involves an inflammation of the oral or gastrointestinal mucosa and is a common complication of cancer treatment. Mucositis is usually associated with high-dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy and, more recently, molecular targeted therapy. Oral mucositis refers specifically to inflammation and ulceration that occurs in the mouth. If not treated promptly, it can potentially lead to life-threatening infection requiring hospitalisation and intravenous antibiotics. This article discusses the causes and nursing management of oral mucositis, with an emphasis on self-care and optimal oral hygiene, as well as pharmacological interventions.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11717

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Myatt R (2021) Understanding oral mucositis and the principles of effective mouth care. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11717

Published online: 22 March 2021

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Try 1 month’s access for just £1 and get:

Your subscription package includes:
  • Full access to nursingstandard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • The monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student
Already subscribed? Log in

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now