One or more pimples on your tongue may be brought on by numerous conditions or diseases. They may be red or white in appearance, and even yellow or black, depending on what caused them. These pimples are like facial or body acne or zits, in that they can affect many areas of the tongue. This includes the back, side, tip, underside, top or entire tongue. These pimples may be tiny, mid-sized or large, and may give you pain or not.
Having pimples on the tongue is more common than you would think. It affects people of many different age groups, from infants to adults. Although this type of acne isn’t life-threatening unless a life-threatening condition brings it on, it can be irritating and bothersome, particularly if they are sore or swollen.
Depending on what causes your pimple on tongue, they may vary in appearance. Now that we’ve armed you with what these pimples might be, we’d like to head into causes and treatments for pimples on the tongue.
What causes a pimple on the tongue?
In case you’ve come this far and you still aren’t sure if those spots that look like pimples on your tongue actually ARE pimples, the answer is “Yes”. But what causes them, and why do they start on the tongue? There are many causes for pimples. Some of the more common causes are:
Reactions to allergens in lip care products like lip stick or balm, as well as to mouth care products, foods or medications, can all cause a pimple on your tongue. This is due to the fact that your immune system is trying to rid your body of the allergens now found on your tongue.
Pimples caused by allergic reactions are more obvious, because they appear quite suddenly after you have encountered an allergen.
- Trauma or Injuries
Eating rough foods like nachos, pretzels or chips, or biting your tongue can cause irritation. So can irritating dental appliances or piercing jewelry. These can all cause swelling or bumps on the tip or side of your tongue, and the pimples may appear white as they start the healing process.
- Clogged Skin on the Tongue
At times, your tongue surface may become clogged with food or dead skin. This gives bacteria a good chance to form in the base of your pores, which causes pimples.
- Enlarged, Inflamed or Swollen Taste Buds or Lingual Papillae
Lingual papillae are the tiny, hair or nipple-like structures atop the tongue, that give it the rough texture you are accustomed to seeing. They are closely associated with your taste buds. At times, they may become swollen or inflamed. This gives them an appearance like a bump or pimple on the tongue. They are red or white in color, and are referred to as transient lingual papillae.
- Oral Thrush
Also called “oral candidiasis”, oral thrush is an infection caused by fungus. It frequently causes white pimples on the tongue (back, tip or side) and in the mouth, in general. At times, oral thrush may bring on red pimples on your tongue, if it leads to inflammation of the taste buds.
- Aphthous Ulcers or Canker Sores
These are shallow, small lesions, which can develop on your mouth’s soft tissues, and at the gums’ base. They are not contagious. These lesions may each look like a pimple on your tongue, and they are painful, making eating or talking difficult. Canker sores may be caused by viral infections, hormonal changes, mouth injuries, immunity problems, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, food allergies or stress.
- Oral Cancer
If you often have stubborn sores on your tongue and in your mouth, they could be caused be cancer. It’s not as common as other causes, and if you do have cancer, you will also have other symptoms. They include:
- Jaw swelling
- Numbness of tongue or other parts in the mouth
- Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
- Ear pain
- Difficulty in swallowing or chewing
- The feeling that you have something in your throat
- STDs and Viral Infections
Viral infections like colds and the flu can cause mouth sores, as can oral herpes, which is considered an oral region STD. They may cause blisters and bumps like pimples on your tongue. They can also affect your lips and other parts of your mouth. Pimples caused by herpes usually ooze pus-like liquid, and you may also experience other symptoms like those of the flu.
- Scarlet Fever
This infectious disease mainly affects children. The symptoms include fever, sore throat and red rash on the body, including the tongue. Each bump may appear like a pimple on the tongue. Since this is a bacterial type of infection, it is often treated with antibiotics.
- Kawasaki disease
This is another disease commonly found in children. It causes red bumps like pimples on the back of their tongue. Other symptoms include cracked lips, joint pain, bloodshot eyes, redness on the soles of the feet, swollen lymph nodes and fever.
- Other Causes for Pimples on the Tongue
There are numerous other things that could cause a pimple on the tongue. They include:
- Tongue scraping
- Hormonal changes, like those during pregnancy
- Digestive issues
- Chewing and smoking tobacco
- Poor oral hygiene
Yellow Pimple on Tongue
If you notice small, yellowish pimples on your tongue or lips, or elsewhere in your mouth, they may be brought on by oral herpes or cold sores. The blisters are painful and initially red, but they turn yellow when they start to dry out. Some of these canker sores may look white, too, while the surrounding area is usually red.
Pimples under the Tongue
At times, you may develop pimples on the underside of your tongue. These pimples or zits may or may not be painful, depending on their cause. They can be located anywhere on the bottom of your tongue. The causes of pimples under the tongue commonly include:
- Cold sores or fever sores – These look like little red pimples and they may ooze a liquid. As they heal, they look whiter.
- Oral cancer – This may cause cancerous bumps on the underside of your tongue.
- Lymphoepithelial cysts – These are soft and yellow, without a certain known cause. They can be removed surgically.
- Canker sores – These are usually painful, and their causes include numerous ones that we have already spoken about.
- Clear pimples under the tongue – These bubbles, blisters or pimples are usually caused by mucocele. This is a simple, harmless condition that blocks and damages your salivary duct or salivary gland.
- Other causes include squamous papilloma, traumatic fibroma, vitamin deficiencies, scarlet fever, irritation and syphilis.
Treating pimples under your tongue will depend on what their cause is. Check the symptoms and then compare them to those of the causes listed above. This will help you to determine the probable cause. Above all, DON’T pop pimples under the tongue!
Pimples on the Side of the Tongue
Zits found on the side of your tongue may be brought on by vitamin deficiencies, oral thrush, fibroma, oral herpes, oral cancer, oral lichen planus, injury, trauma, ill-fitting dental appliances, allergic reactions or canker sores, along with other reasons that we have previously discussed.
Pimples on the side of your tongue may be large or small, painful or not, and yellow, red, black or white in color. They can also appear on either side of the tongue.
White Pimple on Tongue, Lips or Mouth
You may encounter white pimples on your tongue that are located either on the top, the side, the tip, the back or the underneath part. You may have just one pimple or many, and they can be large or small. They may be scattered around on your tongue, or clustered in one place.
White pimples on the tongue are generally caused by tongue piercings and jewelry, injury to the tongue (from dental appliances, biting or burning), canker sores, oral lichen planus and oral thrush, which may be found in adults as well as children.
The best ways to treat these white pimples are covered in the treatments and general remedies we will describe at the end of this article.
Red Pimples on your Tongue
If you note red pimples on the back, underneath, top, side or tip of your tongue, these may be caused by numerous things. One of the most common of causes for red tongue pimples is cold sores. The skin that surrounds these blisters can be sore, red and swollen. When the blisters break open, they will leak clear fluid, and they usually scab over after several days.
Other causes for red tongue pimples include canker sores, Kawasaki disease, scarlet fever or inflamed taste buds, if the pimples are small and raised.
Black Pimple on your Tongue
Black pimples found on the tongue are usually caused by allergic reactions, trauma, injury, hairy black tongue, oral cancer, tongue piercings, oral fibroma or hyperpigmentation.
Pimples on the Tip of the Tongue
As with pimples elsewhere in the mouth and tongue, these pimples may be painless or painful, small or large, and red or white in color. These variations are all dependent on their cause. The most common causes include canker sores, cold sores or transient lingual papillitis.
Pimples on the Back of your Tongue
Pimples found on or near the back of your tongue may be brought on by scarlet fever, leukoplakia, oral thrush, Kawasaki disease, canker sores, trauma or allergic reactions, among other causes. They may be large or small, red or white. If yours appear as blisters, they may be caused by oral herpes.
Cures & Treatments for Pimples on your Tongue
Specific treatments and cures for a pimple on the tongue will depend on its cause.
- If the pimple was caused by a bacterial infection, it may be treated with an antibiotic.
- Pimples brought on by viral-type infections may require targeted anti-viral medications. These will not treat the cause, but they will lessen the symptoms.
- Pimples that are the result of fungal infections like oral thrush require anti-fungal medicines. Nystat and other drugs that are administered orally will be especially effective.
To soothe, prevent, reduce or treat pimples on the tongue, you will find below numerous home remedies and care tips for the tongue and mouth that will be helpful. They include:
- NOT POPPING the pimple – That could spread the bacteria that initially caused the pimple.
- Maintaining proper oral hygiene – Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and brush your tongue, too. Use a mouthwash that has antibacterial properties. Dental gels may help, but don’t use mouthwash with alcohol in it.
- Avoiding certain foods – Don’t eat foods that irritate the taste buds or cause you allergic reactions. This includes salty, spicy and hot foods. They may worsen the condition. Avoid carbonated and acid foods, as they may irritate the pimples.
- Gargling – gargle with salty water for a few minutes two times a day. This helps in reducing swelling, inflammation and pain. Salty water is helpful in treating minor infections in the mouth, too, and it prevents the spread of infection. To prepare a saline solution, add one teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm (NOT hot) water.
- Applying Milk of Magnesia – Use a cotton ball to apply this medicine two times a day, to relieve sore pimples.
- Covering bumps or pimples – Use over the counter antiseptic medications to hasten healing and reduce irritation.
- Using cold compresses – Try applying a cold compress or sucking on ice chips. This reduces pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Chewing leaves of mint – If you chew mint leaves before you head for bed at night, it may help in reducing the size of your pimples by the next morning. It also reduces pain and discomfort.
- Using a DIY milk & fig mixture – Mix two figs and a glass of warm milk. This is helpful if your mouth pimples are caused acid reflux, indigestion or other gastrointestinal issues.
- Applying hydrogen peroxide and water – Try this on the pimple with a cotton swab, three or four times per day.
- Making a baking powder paste – Mix hydrogen peroxide and baking powder and apply this to your affected area. This helps in bacterial infections, as well.
- Eating a balanced, healthy diet – Some foods exacerbate pimples. Try to avoid coconut oil, breads and coffee, as well as sugary foods, dairy foods and fatty foods. Eat fresh veggies and fruits, instead.
Take supplements if you need them. Vitamin C and B supplements will help you to deal with tongue pimples. Drinking lots of water will help, too.