Bumps on the tongue and back of the tongue could be scary if you don’t know what caused them. The good news is, most cases of bumps are easily resolved and are not threatening. However, there are some cases that require medical intervention, so it’s always best to speak to your doctor to distinguish which one is your case.
Having bumps on the tongue or at the back of it can be a nuisance as it can get in the way of eating, talking, swallowing and even tasting. If you’ve encountered bumps on your tongue/back of your tongue, here is a list of common causes and natural remedies.
- Injury: Biting, burning or any other injury can cause temporary bumps and soreness. The good news is that it is temporary and will heal.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Lack of certain vitamins.
- Allergy: As a form of allergic reaction.
- Smoking: Excessive smoking can irritate the tongue.
- Specific medical conditions: i.e., anemia and diabetes.
- Canker sores: Mouth ulcers that can worsen in times of stress.
- Stomatitis: A result of poor dental hygiene.
- Scarlet fever: Streptococcal infection that can lead to red bumps.
- Herpes: Can form painful red bumps and typically lasts for seven days.
- Kawasaki syndrome: This condition affects children under the age of five. It impacts the blood vessels and causes bumps on the tongue to appear.
- Burning tongue syndrome: This syndrome occurs in menopause and is characterised by a burning feeling in the tongue.
- Enlarged papillae: Bumps at the back of tongue could be the result of enlarged papillae (taste buds) due to irritation.
- Oral thrush: Yeast infection that can be caused by steroids, antibiotics (as they kill good bacteria) or diabetes; most commonly seen in the elderly or small children.
- Leukoplakia: Cells in the mouth start growing excessively, which causes white patches along the mouth and tongue. This could be an early sign of cancer and can be triggered by tobacco.
- Oral cancer: If bumps stay beyond two to three weeks, it may be an early sign of oral cancer and it’s best to consult your doctor about your concerns.
Bumps on the back of the tongue
The causes of bump on the tongue listed above could also apply to those on the back along with a few other causes, which include:
- Natural bumps: We all have natural bumps at the back of the tongue, but different conditions (i.e., a sinus infection) can cause irritation, making them more noticeable. Some people have larger taste buds than others, meaning they naturally have larger bumps on the back of the tongue, which shouldn’t raise any concern.
- Trauma: Biting, burning or even brushing your tongue too hard can result in bumps on the back of the tongue. Tongue trauma usually resolves itself, but using an antiseptic mouthwash can speed up healing and prevent infection.
- Warts: Warts are a result of infection and can occur anywhere in and around the mouth. The most common cause is when you put an infected finger in your mouth. Warts will appear with a slightly different colour, which distinguishes them from other bumps on the back of the tongue.
Bumps on the sides of the tongue
Any of the abovementioned causes could lead to bumps on the side of the tongue with a few extra causes. For starters, ill-fitting dentures can lead to lesions on the side of the tongue, so you may want to speak to your dentist about correcting the problem.
Oral lichen planus is an inflammatory condition that leads to white patches and ulcers on the lining of the mouth. Bumps and red sores can develop along the tongue as well. Practicing good hygiene along with avoiding spicy and acidic foods could help prevent oral lichen planus.
There are numerous reasons as to why red bumps may appear on the tongue. Trauma, irritation and eating salty or sugary foods can all cause the natural bumps on your tongue to go red.
Illness like a common cold, flu and sinus infections can also irritate the taste buds at the back of the tongue, causing those bumps to redden. Lastly, sores, allergies or herpes can all contribute to red bumps, so to rule out why your tongue has red bumps see a doctor.
Here are some home remedies you can try in order to reduce bumps on your tongue. Keep in mind that some causes for bumps on tongue require medical attention, so if it is something more serious, go see your doctor for a prescription. These remedies can help you better treat tongue injuries, minor illnesses and allergies.
- Gargle warm salt water
- Chew mint leaves
- Eat foods that are cold and soft like yogurt
- Avoid food triggers if you have allergies, or triggers that can worsen the pain and swelling of bumps – such as salty or acidic food
- Maintain good oral hygiene with brushing, flossing and mouthwashing
- Visit your dentist regularly to spot any changes to your oral health
When to see a doctor
When the bumps become large and discolored, go visit your doctor right away. If the bumps have been around for weeks that should be another indication to see your doctor, too. Lastly, if the bumps appear to only be on one side without a viable explanation, visit your doctor. – Dr. Victor Marchione