What Is Magic Mouthwash Used for?

Magic Mouthwash is a compounded formulation used by health care providers to help ease oral and esophageal pain in patients. There is no one specific condition for which this mixture is used. However, AIDS and cancer patients are more familiar with this concoction as they are prone to ulceration and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus.


Magic Mouthwash may be prescribed for a sore throat, mouth ulcers and cold sores. Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments are at risk for developing oral sores and inflammation of the mucous membranes due to treatment. Infections of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and esophagus can cause pain and ulcerations. Magic Mouthwash may be used in these instances as well.


Magic Mouthwash is generally in a liquid form and made of 3 standard components. Lidocaine, Maalox and Benadryl are the typical components. Some providers use Kaopectate in place of the Maalox. Other providers may add anti-infective agents such as tetracycline and nystatin. Magic Mouthwash is typically given as a 5 ml dose, for adults, and is swished about the mouth and then spat out. For pain or sores that are further back in the oral cavity, the solution can be gargled prior to being spat out. To treat esophageal pain or inflammation, Magic Mouthwash can be swallowed. A patient can use this compound every six hours, or as prescribed. In the case of mouth ulcers and cold sores, the doctor may recommend only dabbing the solution on the affected area.


The diphenhydramine, or Benadryl, helps to relieve pain. It is an analgesic. The Maalox and Kaopectate, are used to help the mixture coat the area. The lidocaine solution is also a topical analgesic; it has a numbing effect. After using Magic Mouthwash, food and beverage intake should not occur for at least 30 minutes after treatment as this may reduce the effects of the compound.


In some cancer and AIDS patients, oral inflammation, infections and/or ulcerations can cause so much pain that eating is a very unpleasant experience. Magic Mouthwash can soothe the mouth and/or esophageal pain, allowing patients to orally consume nutrients with decreased discomfort. Mouth ulcerations, if left untreated, can lead to a widespread infection. A Magic Mouthwash formula that contains an anti-infective can help reduce pain and prevent, or resolve an infection.


The adult formula of Benadryl contains alcohol that can actually cause more initial discomfort and drying of the mucous membranes. When possible, the pediatric formula should be requested if the adult formula cannot be tolerated. An allergy to any of the components of the compound should be reported to the doctor prior to use. Special caution should be taken when eating after use of Magic Mouthwash, as it may impair the gag reflex, putting the patient at risk for choking.