Swollen or Inflamed Taste Buds on Tongue : Causes and Remedies

The tongue is the most sensitive organ in your body and it senses the taste with its numerous tiny taste buds. If you feel a small bump or a pimple on your tongue, it could be swollen taste buds. If your taste buds were swollen, then it gives you an annoying, painful and irritating sensation.

Multiple swollen taste buds are scientifically referred as “transient lingual papillitis”. People often refer these swollen taste buds as inflamed taste bud or enlarged taste buds or inflamed papillae or infected taste bud or irritated taste buds.

swollen taste buds tip of tongue

Image Credits: Lacey


Some people tries to cut the inflamed taste buds with their teeth. That is harmful to your tongue. Just leave the swollen taste buds as it is and it doesn’t require any treatment. But the following home remedies can reduce the pain and helps you to heal faster.

But you have to know the cause for your swollen taste buds. If any serious problem, contact your doctor immediately.

What Causes Swollen Taste Buds?

Why do taste buds swell?  There are many causes for the swollen taste buds. Let’s see them one by one below.

1. Drinking Hot Beverages

Drinking hot beverages is the most common cause for the swollen taste buds. Sometimes drinking hot tea or coffee can scald your tongue. The hot fluids irritate your papillae and cause enlarged taste buds.

Usually, this type of inflamed taste buds occurs on the tip of your tongue. Most people experienced this while drinking hot soup!

2. Biting Your Tongue

Taste buds may also swell if you accidentally bite your tongue, hard hitting or any other trauma to the tongue. If you bite your taste buds, the white swollen taste bud may turn red and gives you burning sensation.

swollen taste buds

Image Credits: Christopher


3. Eating Hot or Spicy foods

As like hot beverages, foods are also one of the causes for enlarged taste buds. Sometimes while eating hot foods, it may burn the taste buds. It causes painful swelling around your papillae.

Spicy foods also will do the maximum damage. If you eat very hot and spicy foods, definitely you will be affected from swollen taste buds.

4. Allergic Reaction on the Tongue

Exposure to alcohol, tobacco, foods with citrus or acidic taste may also one of the reasons for your raised or big taste buds. These foods, drinking alcohol, chewing or smoking tobacco, etc can irritate your taste buds and make them inflamed.

Some of the examples are sauces, citric juices, lemon, seafood, etc.

Also, the long-term usage of tobacco or alcohol may affect your taste buds and reduce its sensation.

 5. Acid Reflux

If you are infected with acid reflux or GERD, the stomach acid from esophagus can travel and reach your throat and finally tongue.

This stomach acid irritates your tongue and is the cause for the inflammation of taste buds. You may feel a sore throat due to this acid reflux.

Also, you may feel this irritating swollen taste buds at the back of the throat and not at the side or tip of the tongue. But in severe cases, enlarged taste buds may spread all over the tongue.

7. Vitamin Deficiency

A deficiency vitamins may affect the taste buds and enlarge it and reduce its sensations. The deficiency of following vitamins are the root cause of swelling.

The below vitamins are responsible for the taste sensations. A deficiency of these vitamins can cause swollen taste buds and reduce our sensation.

  • Folic Acid- If you lack folic acid in your body, you may notice a smooth, red tongue and loss of taste sensation. You can detect this deficiency with blood tests.
  • Vitamin B- A deficiency of Vitamin B can interfere with normal taste sensations on your tongue.
  • Vitamin B12- It is closely related to folic acid. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 may affect the nerves that convey taste sensations to the brain.
  • Zinc- A deficiency of this vitamin can cause changes in taste and appetite.

8. Mouth Infection

Mouth Infection cause irritation to all oral membranes. So it irritates the tongue and causes inflamed taste buds.

Mouth infections may include oral thrush or yeast thrush, candidiasis, canker sores, oral cancer, and mouth ulcers.

9. Yeast Infection or Oral Thrush or Oral Yeast

Yeast infection can also cause irritated and swollen taste buds. The inflamed, red, white or black tongues could be a sign of thrush. Yeast infection causes swollen taste bud on side of tongue.

Oral thrush or Oral yeast occurs when a yeast infection develops in your mouth and on your tongue. You may feel burning sensation with little red bumps on your tongue or white bumps on the back of the tongue. The signs also include swollen gums and swollen taste buds on the back of the tongue.

10. Swollen Taste Buds STDs

The sexually transmitted disease can also affect your mouth and cause enlarged taste buds STDs. Here are some of the most common STDs that can probably cause inflamed and swollen taste buds includes,

  • Rarely, Oral Gonorrhoea also a cause inflamed taste buds. The symptoms include a sore throat, discomfort when swallowing food, red tongue with some white spots or whitish/yellow discharge.
  • Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease can also cause sores on your mouth and lips. This condition may also lead to the enlarged taste bud on the tongue.
  • Oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area. It is commonly called as Cold sore or Fever blister or Oral herpes simplex or Herpes labialis or Herpes simplex.It is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

You can feel itching, burning, and tingling sensation near the lips or mouth area. This infection makes papillae swollen or causes swollen painful taste buds.

11. Tongue Piercing

Tongue piercing also causes inflamed papillae. The infections after tongue piercing are swelling, redness, discharge or bleeding fluids on your tongue may tender the taste buds at the end of tongue or tip of the tongue.

This leads to enlarged taste buds and causes tingling or burning sensation on the sides of the tongue.

12. Swollen Taste Buds Cancer

Carcinoma is a type of cancer, in which the cancer cells destroy the normal cells of the tongue. This causes infected taste buds or papillae.

The more serious situations such as sores or lumps on the tongue or unexplained bleeding can be a sign of mouth cancer.

13. Physical Injuries on the Tongue

Physical Injuries on the Tongue can lead to swelling of taste buds. Here I listed few physical injuries that may cause large taste buds.

  • Scrapping your tongue with teeth or with any dental appliances.
  • Injuries due to oral surgery may often cause painful taste bud.
  • Injuries on your tongue also increase the risk of swelling.
  • Rubbing your tongue, may irritate the taste buds and make it swollen.
  • Cuts, burns, gashes, scrapes, lacerations or any other damages on your tongue, also causes inflamed taste buds and also these may lead to exploded taste buds.
  • A bruise on your tongue, small cracks, and fissures also infect your taste buds and cause enlarged taste buds or inflamed papillae.
  • Even brushing with a rough toothbrush is also the cause for irritated taste buds.

14. Dry Mouth and Throat

Dry throat is one of the major cause for swollen taste buds at the back of the tongue. It may cause burning sensation due to the dry and rough tongue.

15. Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

High-Stress levels or anxiety or depression can cause sore taste buds. People rarely suffer from painful swollen taste buds when they are stressed.

Stress may suppress the immunity and make your body prone to all kind of diseases.

Hormonal imbalances may also cause inflamed taste buds on tip of tongue.

16. Swollen Taste Buds and Sore Throat

The swollen taste buds at the back of the tongue are due to a sore throat. But this is a common illness and it will cure on its own in 2-3 days without any treatment. To get faster relief from raised or enlarged taste buds you can take some medications.

swollen taste buds back of tongue sore throat

Image Credits: Dimitrios Malamos

Swollen Taste Buds and Pregnancy

Can pregnancy cause swollen taste buds? NO.

While you are pregnant, you are tempted to eat hot, spicy and citrus foods. This irritates your tongue papillae and may lead to inflamed taste bud.

So don’t worry about swollen papillae during pregnancy. For any health problems, while you are pregnant, doctor’s advice is essential.

How to Getting Rid of Inflamed Taste Buds?

These below treatments can help alleviate symptoms of inflamed taste buds and pain. You can easily get rid of those painful taste buds if you follow the below methods religiously.

1. Be Calm

Don’t scrape the inflamed taste buds. Even if you rub it or scrape it with teeth, it may worsen the condition. Also be careful while brushing your teeth.

The white swollen taste bud may turn to reddish if you scrape it. It increases the pain and not help in getting rid of swollen taste buds.

2. Avoid hot beverages and drink cold beverages

Hot beverages may irritate the raised taste buds and cause heavy pain. Better avoid those fluids and go for cold beverages.

You can take cold water, fresh juices (non-citrus), buttermilk, milk, etc. to ease the swelling. Avoid Citrus fruit juices, tea, Soda, hot coffee, alcohol, etc.

3. Rinse the infected taste bud with salt water.

Salt water rinsing is one of the good solutions to ease your pain caused by swollen and big taste buds.

  • Take a glass of water.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of salt in it.
  • Mix it well. Now the mixture is ready.

Rinse your mouth with this salt water mixture for 30 seconds and spit the water. Repeat this 3-4 times per day.

Initially, you may feel some annoying feeling when salt water contacts your taste buds. But this will reduce the inflammation faster.

4. Try an antiseptic mouthwash

Antiseptic mouthwashes can ease your pain associated with swollen taste buds and helps in faster recovery.

5. Eat cold or mild foods.

Avoid the hot and spicy foods at this time. These foods increase your pain due to swollen taste buds.

Go for cold or mild foods. These foods reduce the pain and don’t increase the irritation. Take Ice cream, Yoghurt, Milk, butter, etc. to ease your pain.

Home Remedies to Treat Swollen Taste Buds

Here are the best home remedies to cure swollen taste buds on your tongue.

1. Apply Ice

Generally, cold or ice is used to relieve pain. When a part of your body is injured, the damaged tissues become swollen. This can cause pain or swell in that affected area. The ice helps reduce swelling in that affected area, which in turn reduces the pain.

2. Ice Healing Methods

  • Apply an ice cube or a cold gel pack to the painful swollen taste buds.
  • You can choose using an ice massage.

Note: Excessive use of Ice can cause damage to the tissue. So don’t use ice for more than 5 minutes at a single affected part.

3Never be dehydrated

A dry mouth may lead to sore and swollen taste buds.

So, often hydrate your mouth with beverages.

4. Baking soda remedy

Naturally, Baking soda has the antifungal and antiseptic properties. Like apple cider vinegar, baking soda also controls the pH level of your skin. It is one of the proven methods to reduce swelling of taste buds.

  • Take a tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl
  • Pour few drops of honey or water and make it a paste.
  • Now apply this paste onto your acne and leave it for 3-5 minutes.
  • Now rinse your mouth with warm water

Note: Don’t leave the paste more than 5 minutes. Since baking soda can harm your skin.

5. Tea tree Oil

Tea tree oil is used in several medical applications. It has a compound called benzoyl peroxide, which can effectively fight against swelling. It is useful to treat all type of skin infections.

Method 1:

  • Take a glass of warm water.
  • Add few drops of tea tree oil.
  • Mix well.
  • Gargle with this mixture for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this 3-4 times a day.

Method 2:

  • Apply tea tree oil directly onto your sore or raised taste buds.
  • Leave it for 1-2 hours.
  • Then wash it out with cold water.

Note: If you have a sensitive skin, dilute the tea tree oil with water.

6. Honey

Honey also is known as liquid gold and has a long medicinal history. It is one of the best medicines for most kind of diseases. It has the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a natural cough suppressant. It is one of the best pain relievers and reduces the swelling.

  • Apply honey directly onto your raised taste buds.
  • Leave it for few minutes.
  • Honey will do its magic!

Note: Never Give Honey to children those who are under a year old.

7. Apply Glycerine on the sore taste buds

Glycerine is a well-known anti-swelling agent. It heals your swelling in few hours.

Apply glycerine on the inflamed taste buds on tip of tongue or at sides. Glycerine can make you free from burning sensations.

The other common names of swollen taste buds as inflamed taste bud or enlarged taste buds or inflamed papillae or infected taste bud or irritated taste buds.

Here I explained the detailed view of causes for swollen taste buds and how to get rid of it with home remedies. Initially, know the cause for your sore or risen taste buds then try these remedies to treat those painful taste buds.

About the author

Amanda kelly

She is specialized in alternative medicine. As a nature lover, she has a wealth of knowledge on home remedies for a large number of health problems. she has been trying these remedies for many years and you would like them as well. She has experience editing for both the scientific community and the general public. She joined AskMyHealth in 2015. She loves to hike, use her standup paddleboard, and enjoy all life has to offer.

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