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Pimple on Tongue: Causes, Types & Treatment

Woman looking for a pimple on tongue

Pimple on tongue? Tongue pimples can be a source of worry and embarrassment, especially when you don’t know what they are or what to do about them. However, they’re very common and can be caused by various reasons. Also, they can be harmless, and can also be a sign of serious underlying medical issues.

In this article, we’ll explore various causes of pimples on the tongue and possible home remedies.

Causes of Pimple on Tongue

1. Tongue Injuries

Tongue injuries can cause white spots on tongue

You can have a tongue injury if:

  • You bite your tongue by mistake, during anesthesia, while sleeping, eating, playing sports, or for other reasons.

  • You use braces or teeth jewelry.

  • You burn your tongue with hot food or liquids.

These injuries can feel like pimples or bumps on your tongue, but they mostly don’t require treatment. They eventually go away on their own.

2. Oral Herpes

Oral Herpes is an extremely common oral infection. It’s called cold sore or fever blisters and can be gotten through intimate contact (e.g., Kissing or Oral sex) with an infected person.

One of its symptoms is sores and blisters around the nose, mouth, gum, or tongue. Unlike other tongue bumps, Oral Herpes is long-term and requires treatment. It can be extremely painful and last for up to a week before disappearing.

3. Canker sores

A canker sore is a non-contagious mouth sore that can be highly irritating and painful. Canker sores resemble cold sores or pimples, and they can make eating difficult and stressful.

Causes of canker sores include stress, acidic food, and other minor oral injuries. You may experience a flat or raised red spot on your mouth, cheek, or tongue. Canker sores are harmless and will heal on their own within one to three weeks.

4. Allergies

Allergies can cause tongue reactions

Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a substance unusually. A food allergy, for instance, is a term that describes an unpleasant immune system reaction that occurs whenever you eat a particular food.

Different people have different allergy symptoms, which can be either internal or physical, which can cause pimple-like structures on the tongue, swollen glands, or “dead” taste buds (an inability to taste food).

Small bumps are nothing to worry about, but if your allergy makes your tongue swell up or (in rare cases) causes difficulty breathing, seek urgent medical attention.

5. Cancer

Doctor inspecting patient's tongue

Occasionally, people will notice a pimple on their tongue, and think it’s oral cancer, but the chances of getting a cancerous bump on the tongue are very low.

However, a bump on the tongue may be cancerous if it appears as a numb and painless pinkish-red bump that refuses to go away and grows from the side of the tongue. Before reaching any conclusions on oral cancer, it’s essential to reach out to a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

6. Infections

Infections of the tongue.

There are different causes of tongue infection, e.g., enlarged papillae (a common trigger is a bite or irritation from hot food on the tongue), inflammation of the tongue papillae, and bacteria/food debris trapped on the papillae.

Tongue infection can appear as a sore spot or swell like a pimple. White bumps may also appear on the enlarged papillae.

Infections can be excruciating, so visit a dental office if the pain becomes unbearable. A doctor will help you identify the root cause of the infection and treat it adequately.

Transient Lingual Papillitis (Lie Bumps)

The name “Lie bumps” came from an old myth that claimed people get lie bumps on their tongues as punishment for telling lies. But that’s not true. Lie bumps are caused by tongue injury, spicy food, asthma, or eczema.

Lie bumps are temporary sores that are tender, white, red, or yellow. They appear on the tongue’s surface and are caused by inflamed papillae. Transient lie bumps can make eating difficult or affect your taste buds, especially when you eat spicy foods, but such bumps go away on their own after two weeks.

If lie bumps are accompanied by other illnesses or caused by a virus, that’s called eruptive lingual papillitis. Therefore, visit a dental professional if you experience other symptoms besides a lie bump.

Pimple on Tongue Treatments and Home Remedies

The treatment for tongue bumps varies since they are caused by different reasons. Some remedies to get rid of pimples or bumps on the tongue include:

  • Avoid spicy foods until the tongue bumps disappear and your taste buds are back in shape.

  • A saltwater rinse: rinse and gargle your mouth with warm salt water.

  • See a dental professional and get tested for other underlying health conditions.

  • Use oral moisturizing products.

  • Apply topical remedies to reduce pain.

  • Don’t use alcohol-based mouthwashes until the lie bumps disappear.

Oral hygiene

Oral hygiene is keeping your mouth clean and free from viral infection. Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent a tongue pimple from getting infected and painful. Here are tips for good oral health:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.

  • Floss daily.

  • Brush your tongue.

  • Use antibacterial mouthwash every day.

  • Visit your dentist regularly.

  • Avoid smoking.


Doctor inspecting mouth of patient

Tongue bumps are common occurrences that mostly need minor or no treatment. But, you can’t be so sure. If you notice bumps on your tongue, a pimple, white swollen bumps, canker sores, or lie bumps in your mouth, visit a doctor immediately.

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