Red or White Bumps on Back of Tongue, Tip & Sides-Causes & Remedies

Bumps on the tongue make you uncomfortable and frustrating. Most bumps on the tongue aren’t serious. But some may be cancerous.

Most commonly, you can notice red and white bumps on the tongue. Most bumps occur at the tip of the tongue and sides of the tongue. Rarely, you can notice large bumps on the back of the tongue. Some bumps may be painful and some may not.

The below home remedies are enough to cure the bumps on the tongue. Doctor’s care should be taken if the bumps are not fade away after 2 weeks.

swollen taste buds bumps on the tongue

Image Credits: Christopher

What Causes Bumps on the Tongue?

Are you thinking about “why do I have bumps on the back of my tongue?” Here are the possible causes for the bumps on the tongue.

1. Physical Injuries on the Tongue

Physical Injuries on the tongue can lead to sore bumps. Here I listed few physical injuries that may cause painful bumps on the tongue. Tiny bump on tip of tongue is always due to trauma and no treatment is needed to cure the tongue bumps on this case.

  • Biting your tongue
  • Scrapping your tongue with teeth or with any dental appliances.
  • Injuries due to oral surgery may often cause painful red bumps on the tongue.
  • Rubbing your tongue with teeth, may irritate the tongue 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 red or white bump on the tongue.

2. Fungiform papillae

They are small red bumps commonly found on top and sides of your tongue. This gives rough texture for your tongue.

Fungiform papillae contain taste buds and temperature sensors. Due to its tiny size and red color, bumps on this area is not noticeable always. Swelling of taste buds is also considered as a bump on top of your tongue.

3. Circumvallate Papillae

When you notice red bumps appear on the back of your tongue, they tend to be larger than other bumps of the tongue are called the circumvallate papillae. These bumps are always present in the back of the throat. These bumps may be more prominent when you are infected with a common cold and sore throat or any other mouth infection.

4. Lie Bumps on Tongue

This is the most common bumps on the tongue. These bumps are often white or red in color. So lie bumps are also noted as white bumps on the tongue.

It is formed due to trauma, foods, stress and hormones. This bump is not a serious issue to worry and it will be cured in one to two weeks without treatment.

The Scientific name of lie bump is transient lingual papillitis.

5. Canker Sores

This is a most common illness occurs anywhere in your mouth (lips, gums, throat, tongue, and roof of the mouth). This also causes painful red sores on your tongue. Canker sores occur on tip of tongue, sides of the tongue and also bumps under your tongue.

This form of painful tongue bumps can be cured in 1-2 weeks without any treatment. But this makes you feel uncomfortable while you swallow foods or drinks.

6. Scarlet Fever 

This medical condition also is known as strawberry tongue. Since this makes your tongue looks like strawberry fruit (with numerous tiny white bumps on the red tongue). This cause makes your tongue swollen and looks bumpy.

Usually, scarlet fever is mild and can be treated with antibiotics. But scarlet fever is contagious so consult your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of scarlet fever.

7. Mouth Cancer

Some of the bumps on the tongue are cancerous. They usually occur on the sides of the tongue and not on the tip of the tongue. The common type of mouth cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.

Mouth cancer is also known as oral cancer. The lump on the tongue may be red, gray or pink in color. Touching the lump may cause bleeding and doctor’s care is recommended to treat mouth cancer.

8. Smoking

Chain smoking may irritate your tongue and makes it sore. Sometimes, this may lead to bumps on your tongue. Generally, bumps due to smoking occur at the tip of the tongue.

9. Allergic Reaction on the Tongue

Exposure to alcohol, tobacco, foods with citrus or acidic taste may also one of the reasons for painful bumps on the tongue. These foods, drinking alcohol, chewing or smoking tobacco, etc can irritate your tongue and make it 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.

10. Eating Hot or Spicy foods

As like hot beverages, foods are also one of the causes for white bumps on the tongue. 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 tongue bumps.

swollen taste buds bumps on the tongue

Image Credits: Dimitrios Malamos

10. Food Allergy

Even allergic reactions to the food may also cause painful red bumps on the tongue.

11. Nutritional Deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to bumps on your tongue. A deficiency of the below vitamins can cause painful bumps on the back of the tongue or at the sides of the tongue.

  • 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 acidA 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.

12. STDs

The sexually transmitted disease can also affect your mouth and cause painful sore bumps on the mouth. Here are some of the most common STDs.

  • Oral Gonorrhoea: 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 bumps 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).

13. Kawasaki Syndrome

This medical condition normally affects children under 5 years old. This condition causes strawberry tongue (with numerous tiny white bumps on the red tongue) in its initial stage.

14. Stomatitis

It is a medical condition refers to the inflammation of mucous membrane of the mouth. It affects almost all the parts of the mouth. It occurs due to poor dental hygiene and may lead to large bumps on the tongue. Symptoms include red patches on the tongue, blisters, mouth ulcers, swelling, etc.

15. Swollen 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.

The large bumps on the back of the tongue is also a form of swollen taste buds.

16. Oral Thrush or Yeast Infection or Oral Yeast

Oral thrush can also cause the painful white bump on the tongue. The inflamed, red, white or black tongues could be a sign of thrush. Mostly bump appears on side of the 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 large bumps on the back of the tongue.

Home Remedies to Getting Rid of Tongue Bumps

Most of the red tongue bumps are simple irritations on your tongue. You can get rid of these tongue bumps faster with the help of home remedies.

1. Saltwater Gargling

Salt water gargling is one of the traditional methods to reduce the bumps on the tongue and to moisten your sore throat. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, gargling with saline water can help to ease your sore throat.

Kindly remember that gargling can provide you temporary relief only. So do gargle 4-6 times a day to get rid of bumps on the tongue.

  • Take a glass of warm water.
  • Add a tablespoon of sea salt in it.
  • Stir it well.
  • Then gargle it for a minute.
  • Repeat this procedure 4-5 times per day.

Gargling will give you good relief for the bumps on the back of the tongue. So do in-depth gargling.

2. Ice Treatment

Generally, cold or ice is used to relieve severe 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.

Ice treatment is helpful if your tongue bumps are caused due to any trauma or physical injuries.

  • Apply an ice cube or a cold gel pack to the painful bumps on the tongue.
  • Ice massage also gives you good relief from pain and burning sensations.

3. Mint leaves

To get rid of red bumps on the tongue, simply chew mint leaves every night before going to bed.

You can also drink a tea made up of mint leaves, twice per day to get a quick remedy from tongue bumps.

4. Eat Soft and cold Foods

It’s better to avoid the hot and spicy foods when you are infected with tongue bumps. These foods worsen the tongue bumps and increase your pain.

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.

5. Oral Hygiene is Important

You should maintain good oral hygiene to get quick heal from the bumps on the back of the tongue. Brush two times a day, clean your tongue twice a day, floss regularly to avoid those bumps on your tongue.

6. Hydrogen Peroxide and Water

Usually, hydrogen peroxide is used to clean the ears and other infections. You can use it to clean the infected area in and around the bumps. But you have to use diluted hydrogen peroxide.

Don’t use the concentrated one, since it will do major harm to your tongue. Use water to dilute the hydrogen peroxide around 3%.

  • Apply the diluted hydrogen peroxide on your bumps.
  • Leave it on for 5 minutes.
  • Then rinse your mouth with fresh water.

7. Apply Glycerin on the Tongue Bumps

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

Apply glycerine on the bumps on the back of tongue, tip of the tongue or at sides. Glycerine can make you free from burning sensations.

8. Take Vitamins

As I said earlier, Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to bumps on your tongue. These painful bumps on the back of the tongue or at the sides of the tongue can be cured by consuming vitamin supplements.

Take foods and supplements that are rich in Folic Acid, Vitamin B, Vitamin B12 and Zinc.

Here I clarified the detailed view of causes for painful bumps on your tongue buds and how to get rid of it with home remedies.

Most commonly, you can notice red and white bumps on the tongue. Most bumps occur at the tip of the tongue and sides of the tongue. Rarely, you can notice large bumps on the back of the tongue. Some bumps may be painful and some may not. You can cure the bumps in few days to weeks. If the bumps last longer for more than 2weeks, consult your doctor for further treatment.

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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