What does it mean when your tongue is itchy? Could it be indicative of a more serious underlying medical issue like diabetes or even cancer? A tongue that itches may be a sign of HIV or an STD, or just a food allergy case, as you might have with fruits or fish.
This article is aimed to help you in understanding what it means when your tongue is tingling- what causes it and when it can be treated with home remedies. We’ll also be exploring health conditions often associated with an itchy, dry tongue.
The Meaning of Tongue Itching
Your physician can sometimes tell your health by checking your tongue. If you have a throat, tongue or mouth itch when you eat specific foods, for example, it’s fairly easy to assume that the culprit is probably allergies.
Geographic itchy tongue
Symptoms of Itchy Tongue
Some symptoms of tongues that itch include tingling and a dry sensation in your throat, tongue and mouth. The symptoms do vary, depending on the specific cause. If you have allergies, you are usually most affected. People with hay fever may have itching in/on the lips, throat, mouth and tongue.
Oral allergy syndrome or OAS is often associated with some food allergies. If you have OAS, your tongue may be especially itchy if you eat high-protein fruits and nuts like mangoes, apples and pineapples.
Your tongue may also react with a burning sensation when you consume spices and raw veggies. Your body sometimes sees food protein as pollen protein. This is known as cross reactivity.
Other symptoms of itchy tongue include:
- Tongue blisters
Allergic reactions on the tongue may be itchy and cause blisters and bleeding. Sufferers of OAS may feel a sensation of heat or burning on their tongues.
- Red bumps
Your tongue, when it itches, may also have red bumps on it. The tongue may develop these bumps, or fissures. This may be accompanied by tongue swelling, and it closely follows putting food in your mouth.
- Itchy, sore tongue
Tongue soreness often occurs along with itchiness. A dry feeling is also common.
- Tongue ridges
Itching of the tongue may lead to ridges, which is often called geographic tongue. Spice and food allergies may cut the tongue, leading to these ridges.
Itchy and ridged tongue
What are the Causes of an Itchy Tongue?
Your tongue has many small crevices where bacteria, food particles and dead skin cells can create itching problems. Causes can be as benign as oral allergy syndrome or as serious as diabetes or cancer.
- Diabetes and Itchiness of the Tongue
Diabetes may include symptoms like an itching, burning tongue or a furry, coated tongue. Oral thrush leads to a yellow or white coated tongue. If your immune system is weak, or you have diabetes, you are more susceptible to fungal mouth infections. If you don’t treat them, your throat may become irritated, too.
If you have diabetes, it is wise to keep your sugar levels within an acceptable range. This will aid in reducing the severity and number of oral yeast infections that affect you.
- Food Allergies and Reactions
Allergic reactions usually cause a burning sensation on your tongue. If you have seasonal allergies, you have probably experienced this before. Eating certain spices, nuts and raw vegetables, your body’s immune system may see them as being from pollen.
Burning tongue caused by food allergies
You need to remember which foods affect you the most. The foods that cause the most problems may include carrots, almonds, hazelnuts, apples and other foods. If you continue to eat these foods, you will be more prone to oral allergy syndrome.
- Excessive Alcohol Drinking or Heavy Tobacco Smoking
In addition to biting your tongue accidentally, smoking or drinking can cause your tongue to become itchy and sore. The smoking in chemicals contributes to tongue irritation.
Heavy alcohol use and smoking may cause ulcers in the mouth and even oral cancer. Smoking also increases your chances of suffering from oral thrush. You may get a skin rash and dry mouth at the same time.
- Itchy, Creamy Tongue from Oral Thrush & other Diseases of the Mouth
A painful, sore tongue may be brought on by a yeast infection or other issues, like ulcers. Itching of the tongue is typical for yeast infection. Fungus also causes oral thrush. If you have a yeast infection in your mouth, your tongue may become coated with a white or yellow creamy texture.
Creamy tongue showing itchy yellow coloring
If you have recently taken antibiotics, they can lead to oral thrush. It may leave you with a metallic, bitter taste on your tongue, in addition to itching. The symptoms of oral thrush include:
- Redness or bleeding in/on the mouth or tongue
- Nasty or bitter taste
- Cracks in the corners of the lips
- Colored mouth patches on the throat, back of the mouth, tongue, cheeks or lips
- Mouth Ulcers
Your tongue may become itchy if you have Aphthous mouth ulcers. They may be found under your tongue or in other parts of your mouth. Accidentally biting your cheek or tongue, or eating very hard foods may lead to ulcers. If ulcers recur, you may become anxious or stressed.
- Canker Sores of the Mouth
If you have open sores in your mouth, including your cheeks, gums or tongue, these may be canker sores. The medical condition is known as recurrent Aphthous stomatitis (RAS). It occurs when your tongue, mouth and lips have broken “skin” resulting in painful cuts.
Canker sores generally appear as yellowish or whitish small sores. They may have infected circles around them, as well. They are common if you have emotional stress, vitamin deficiencies, viral infections or a weakened immune system.
Pregnant women sometimes develop canker sores because of the fluctuations in their hormones. This can cause an itching or burning effect.
Treating canker sores will be helpful in reducing tongue itchiness. Try these measures:
- Use Orajel® or hydrogen peroxide on the sores to temporarily relieve pain.
- Avoid eating spicy or hot foods.
- Apply dabs of Mike of Magnesia® on your lesions for faster healing.
- Rinse the tongue and mouth with salt water, to lower infection risk.
- Add vitamin B12, folic acid and iron supplements to your daily diet regimen.
- Can an Itchy Tongue be a Cancer Sign?
If you drink alcohol or smoke a lot, you are at higher risk for oral cancer. In addition, the human papilloma virus (HPV) may be spread by kissing and oral sex. This can affect your tongue, tonsils, mouth and throat.
Marijuana use has also been linked to oral cancer. Unless you need it medicinally, stop smoking it. Bumps and itching on your tongue signify possible oral cancer. You may also notice a white patch that won’t go away.
- Is Tongue Itch related to HIV, Herpes or an STD?
Could your itching tongue be symptomatic of HIV, oral herpes or possibly a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? A tongue that itches or has sores is not a symptom of a primary HIV infection. However, it can be brought on by a number of various medical conditions. You’ll want to see a physician, to remove any doubt you have, and to ease your mind.
Blemishes or white spots on your tongue, or in the oral cavity, may be very early signs of infections like HIV, though. If you often have white bumps or spots, or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth, again, consult your physician to see what the tests indicate.
An itching or tingling on your tongue might also be due to Candida or oral herpes. The herpes simplex virus is responsible for causing herpes on the tongue. It may also affect many other areas of the mouth, including the lips.
Itchy painful small bumps on a baby’s tongue
What could cause itchiness on your child’s tongue? Your infant may have a white colored tongue that seems to itch. He may also have mouth sores or other problems in the oral cavity that can be worrisome and painful.
If your little one has small but painful tongue bumps, they may be inflamed taste buds or papillae, which are a natural part of the mouth. Injury in a youngster’s mouth may come via a burn from hot food or simply accidental biting of the cheek or tongue.
Do not feed your child many acidic, spicy or hot foods if he has sore bumps on his tongue. The bumps and inflammation will heal themselves, as long as they are not exacerbated by foods or drinks. You can also give your little child ibuprofen or acetaminophen in the proper dosage for his weight and age, to help with pain relief.
Itchy tongue while pregnant
Are you pregnant and experiencing an itching tongue? There are numerous reasons why this could occur at this time in your life. They include allergies and oral thrush, among other causes.
While you are pregnant, your hormones are fluctuating a lot, as well, and this may cause itchiness on your tongue or swollen lips. Thrush or an oral yeast infection during pregnancy may cause a painful itch on your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth.
Treatment for Itchiness of the Tongue
The proper treatment for your burning, itchy or tingling tongue will depend on what is causing it. In some cases, there is no treatment required, since the tongue will heal on its own with some ailments.
In other cases, you may require surgery, medication or radiation to get rid of the itching tongue, depending on the individual severity of the cause. Here are most of the common treatments used for tongue itch:
- Anti-bacterial medicines – If your tingling tongue is caused by an oral bacterial infection, anti-bacterial medications can be used to treat your tongue, throat and mouth.
- Allergy relief medicines – If the reason for your burning tongue is an allergy of some sort, you may be prescribed an anti-allergy medication.
- Antiseptic mouthwash – This is helpful in cleaning your tongue and mouth, and reduces inflammation of the tongue.
- Anti-fungal medicines are prescribed for the treatment of yeast infections like oral thrush.
Tingling Tongue Home DIY Remedies
An itching or burning tongue may be cured right at home with DIY remedies. This is only possible, as a rule, if the underlying cause is not a serious medical condition like diabetes or cancer. Here are some helpful DIY remedies:
- Yogurt and Flax Seed
Mixing yogurt and ground flax seed will help to relieve burning or itching of the tongue. Yogurt includes vitamin B5 which aids in the production of steroid hormones. Flax seed has lots of omega 3 fatty acids, which help to alleviate inflammation. Flax seeds also have antioxidant properties, which helps to speed up healing by giving your immune system a boost.
- Cold Apple Juice
You can use cold apple juice to relieve the itchiness of your tongue. It rinses away some of the irritation and burning, and relieves pain in the throat and on the tongue. The anti-inflammatory properties of apple juice help in reducing swelling of the mouth and tongue, too.
- Lavender oil, aloe Vera or raw honey
Any of these DIY remedies can be applied topically on a tongue that’s itchy. Their anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation. They also have anti-fungal properties that will aid in fighting fungus-related infection. Honey also has anti-allergy properties, which aid in relieving pain by treating allergic reactions.