Tongue Bumps Guide
Do you have a bump on your tongue? Are you trying to figure out what your tongue bumps could be from? Should you seek medical advice? Check out this guide to find out the who, what, where, when and why of the bumps on your tongue.
Just like other parts of your body such as your skin, teeth, and mouth, your tongue plays a huge role in the state of your health. Neglecting the tongue is something people tend to do. However, the tongue can be a key indicator of many health conditions.
Your tongue can show whether or not you are dehydrated, if you’re lacking essential vitamins, or even tell you if you have a certain disease. You, therefore, need to be aware of what your tongue tells you. You also need to be aware if you see any bumps on your tongue.
Bumps on the back of tongue, red bumps on tongue, bumps on side of tongue, bumps under tongue, or even bumps on the top of tongue may mean nothing or could indicate a health issue of some sort. Read on to find out more.
What causes tongue bumps?
Tongue bumps may occur for many different reasons. Just having red bumps on tongue or white bumps on the tongue does not give enough info to carry out a diagnosis. Always visit your dentist or doctor to have an examination and to rule out any medical conditions.
Bumps on the tongue can be caused by any of the following:
These are the normal red bumps that everyone has on their tongue. They tend to blend in with the rest of the tongue but are raised and give the tongue a rough feel. Papillae allow us to taste and feel food temperatures. These appear as bumps on the top of the tongue and bumps on the side of the tongue.
- Lie bumps
Also called transient lingual papillitis, this condition is experienced by lots of people. If you see a small white bump on tongue or if you begin to notice red bumps on tongue, it can indicate that your papillae are irritated , inflamed and a bit swollen. Researchers cannot say what prompts this but it is believed to be triggered by certain foods, as well as hormones and stress. Lie bumps are not that serious even if they may cause you some discomfort. Within a few days, they should disappear but note that they can recur.
Below is a video about lie bumps and it shows pictures of lie bumps as well as reasons you may get them.
Among kids, the most common is the eruptive lingual papillitis which may also be contagious. It may come with swollen glands and a fever. Sometimes, the condition is linked with a viral fever and clears up within a couple of weeks without treatment.
- Traumatic injury
A tongue injury may make the tongue swollen, sore and appear bumpy.
- Canker sores or mouth ulcer
Should you ever experience a painful bump on tongue that looks like a red sore, yellow or white sore, you may be suffering from canker sores. These sores are not technically bumps but I figured I would include them in the guide. Mouth ulcers can occur in every part of your mouth but isn’t contagious. You can find relief from symptoms with over-the-counter painkillers. Without treatment, canker sores improve within a couple of days. If you experience a fever or find it difficult to consume food, set up a meeting with your doctor.
- Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is a viral infection that affects many people. It usually presents itself as cold sores and blisters but may show up on the tongue and in the mouth as well. Oral herpes is contagious.
- Traumatic fibroma
This growth on the tongue looks pink and smooth and is triggered by chronic irritation. Diagnosing the condition can be difficult which is why a biopsy is needed. Surgery may be employed, as well.
Below is a video showing a fibroma from trauma. Also called a traumatic fibroma.
- Squamous papilloma
This condition has a link with the human papillomavirus. Laser ablation or surgical procedures are used to treat this lone bump that has an irregular shape. You can visit your doctor to help you address the HPV symptoms.
This sexually transmitted disease (STD) usually starts out as a small sore with no pain. It can be easy to ignore but more sores will continue to appear and disappear with the progression of the disease. Antibiotics may help in its early stages but you will find sores showing up on the patient’s tongue, as well as inside the mouth during the secondary stages. Without medical care, serious complications can arise and may result in a fatality.
- Scarlet fever
Strawberry tongue can arise from scarlet fever. This condition can cause you to have a swollen tongue that looks red and bumpy. You may also develop a fever and skin rash. Antibiotics can help to treat scarlet fever but it could also cause complications such as kidney disease, pneumonia, etc. Scarlet fever is also contagious.
You might experience this condition if your tongue appears smooth instead of bumpy due to inflammation. Different factors can cause glossitis such as irritants like smoking, an infection, or an allergic reaction. Your doctor will help you determine the best form of treatment.
- Oral cancer
Although tongue bumps may not be serious, some happen to be cancerous. If you notice bumps on side of tongue, there’s a slim possibility that it might be cancerous bumps. A popular form of oral cancer that affects the tongue is referred to as squamous cell carcinoma.
Tongue cancer usually shows up on the front of your tongue and could have a grayish, pinkish, or reddish coloration. If you also notice a bump on the tip of tongue or bumps on back of tongue, it could serve as a pointer to oral tongue cancer and can be difficult to detect. If you suspect oral cancer, do not hesitate to visit your doctor and dentist immediately.
- Lymphoepithelial cysts
A bump under tongue could be a soft yellow cyst called a lymphoepithelial cyst. Although the reason for their occurrence is not fully understood, the cysts can be removed with surgery.
Tongue bumps – When should you see a doctor?
My professional advice is to always visit your dentist to check out any out of the ordinary tongue bumps you have. This is a safe bet to rule out any underlying conditions. Although oftentimes these tongue bumps are just irritation, you want to take any possible medical conditions seriously. Should your tongue bumps be accompanied by breathing problems or swollen tongue, contact your doctor immediately.
If your condition is not accompanied by severe pain or fever, you can wait a couple of days before you decide to consult your doctor. Symptoms that last more than 7 days should prompt you to see a doctor or dentist. We also recommend you to see a doctor if you find that your painful tongue bumps continue to resurface.
Your dentist will inspect your tongue and seek to understand your medical history. You can discuss possible food, drug or dental product allergies. You may also have to undergo a blood test which will cancel the possibility of infections like tuberculosis or syphilis. If the cause of the bump cannot be determined, you may have to undergo a biopsy or have the lump removed for diagnostic procedures.
Once the cause of your tongue bumps is identified, your doctor will determine the best form of treatment. Bacterial infections can be tackled with antibiotics while antifungal medications may also come into play. Keep in mind that some conditions will disappear by themselves but you may also need antiviral meds in some cases.
Tongue Bump Treatment & Relief
Again, the type of treatment for the bumps on your tongue will depend on each case. But if you are looking for relief from your tongue bumps because they are irritated, here are few things you can do to help alleviate irritation.
- Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
- Avoid spicy and acidic foods that may cause more irritation
- Warm salt water rinses
- Use alcohol free mouthwash. I highly recommend CloSYS.
- Use over the counter topical treatments to help with pain
Seeking proper medical attention for your condition will help to rule out the possibility of any serious medical condition. Do not hesitate to get in touch with your doctor should you begin to notice any abnormal bumps on your tongue and especially if any bump last longer than a few days.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.