Bumps on the Tongue


What are the Bumps on the Tongue?

Small bumps present on the top and sides of the tongue are known as fungiform papillae. They contain the temperature sensors and taste buds and also help the tongue while eating due to its rough texture. Normally, these bumps are of the same color as the rest of the tongue and difficult to notice.

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However, sometimes people may experience pain, inflammation and change in the color of the papillae. These are signs of underlying health complications that need correct diagnosis and treatment after consultation with a doctor.

Causes of Bumps on Tongue

  • Squamous Papilloma: Unusual bumps on the tongue are a symptom of infection by human papillomavirus (HPV). Although there is no treatment for HPV, the symptoms can be treated. The bump is single and irregular wherein the options for its treatment are laser ablation or surgery.
  • Glossitis: Inflammation that makes the tongue look smooth rather that bumpy is a result of glossitis. Infection, smoking, allergic reactions or other irritants can trigger such a condition.
  • Traumatic fibroma: Traumatic fibroma is a condition in which chronic irritation results in the tongue appear pink and smooth. Surgical removal of the bump is possible, but a biopsy is usually done before choosing any particular method of treatment.
  • Scarlet fever: It causes the tongue to become swollen, red and bumpy. The fever is usually mild and may also cause skin rashes. It is contagious and can have rare complications like kidney disease, pneumonia, rheumatic fever, etc. Image Source: www.dermnetnz.org
  • Lymphoepithelial cysts: These cysts are benign and the cause is not clear. They appear as soft, yellow cysts under the tongue which requires surgical removal.
  • Mouth cancer: Some bumps on the tongue may be cancerous. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer on the tongue. They usually appear on the sides of the tongue. Gray, pink or red bumps on the front of the tongue may appear due to oral tongue cancer and bleeding may occur on touching them. Cancer at the base of the tongue is difficult to detect because of the absence of pain, but it gets more painful as cancer develops.
  • Canker sores: These are painful red sores and their cause is unknown. They can occur anywhere inside the mouth, but they are not contagious. The symptoms include pain, fever, difficulty in eating and drinking, etc.
  • Lie bumps: Irritation or slight swelling of the papillae results in lie bumps that appear as white and red bumps. Particular types of food, stress or hormones can cause the development of this type of bumps. They may be uncomfortable but not serious. Moreover, they may clear out without any treatment within a few days, but there are chances of recurring.
  • Syphilis: A sexually transmitted infection, in the initial stages the sores are small and painless which may result in the individual neglecting this condition. During the later stages, rashes begin to appear and the sores come and go. Gradually the sores may start to appear on the tongue and in the mouth as well. Lack of treatment at the correct time could lead to further complications and even death.
  • Kawasaki syndrome: Children under the age of five are likely to have bumps on their tongue due to this syndrome. This condition affects the blood vessels that results in the appearance of bumps on the tongue.
  • Herpes: Infection by herpes simplex virus causes herpes that can be transmitted sexually. The disease results in the development of contagious sores around the mouth and genitals. It can also result in the formation of red bumps on the tongue that last for about seven days or more.
  • Burning tongue syndrome: The syndrome occurs during menopause wherein the body goes through many hormonal changes that produce certain effects on the body and burning tongue syndrome is one of them. A burning sensation in the tongue is the primary characteristic of this syndrome.

Symptoms of Bumps on Tongue

  • Partial or complete loss of taste
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Change in the color of the tongue, appearance of black, white, brown or bright pink patches on the tongue
  • Burning sensation in certain spots or all over the tongue
  • Pain in certain spots or all over the tongue
  • Difficulty in moving the tongue

Bumps on the Tongue – Diagnosis

The doctor may want to inquire about the following aspects before concluding the diagnosis:

  • Type of pain that the individual is experiencing
  • Change in the person’s ability to taste
  • Experience of any difficulty in moving the tongue
  • Any other mouth related issues that the person may be suffering from
  • In addition to this inquiry, the doctors may prescribe blood tests and other tests after a physical examination of the patient.

Tongue Bumps Treatment

  • Gargling: Adding salt to warm water and gargling is an effective way of treating bumps on the tongue. Gargling for about 30 seconds before spitting out the water and repeating the process about 3 or 4 times a day can heal the bumps.
  • Drinking plenty of water: Infections can harm the body. Consumption of water in adequate amounts is essential to keep the body hydrated. Moreover, the presence of different types of germs can cause bumps to appear on the tongue, thus drinking lots of water will help to flush out these germs and heal the swelling.
  • Time: As mentioned before, these bumps are usually benign and can heal themselves within a few days. Ideally, it should take about ten days for the tongue to recover. The person simply needs to give the body time to heal and avoid irritants while maintaining oral hygiene.
  • Yoghurt: It contains pro-biotic bacteria which can heal red and white bumps by fighting the bacteria causing the bumps to appear. Moreover, it is a soft food item that does not aggravate the swelling in the tongue. Thus the individual must incorporate similar food items that are gentle on the tongue.

Home Remedies for Bumps on Tongue

Adopting the following remedies can help to treat bumps on the tongue:

  • Regular dental check-ups
  • Chewing mint leaves
  • Avoiding salty & acidic food as well as food that triggers allergic reactions
  • Use ice to ease the swelling & pain of the sores

When to visit a doctor?

An individual must consult a doctor in case of the following circumstances are observed:

  • Bumps persist for more than two weeks
  • Frequent pains that reoccur
  • Fever accompanies problems of the tongue
  • Extreme difficulty while eating or drinking
  • Recurrence of sores
  • Sores are larger when they reoccur
  • Over the counter medicines are unable to reduce the pain in the tongue

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