bumps on the tongue causes and treatment

Bumps on back of the tongue, causes, and treatments

Bumps appearing on the back of your tongue or even on any side of your tongue are very common. They are sometimes barely noticeable and should be any cause of concern. But some people might want to know why they appear, what causes it and how to treat them if they become severe. 

In this article, we will discuss how and why bumps occur on the back of your tongue, the causes, and the treatment options available.

What are tongue bumps?

They are small bumps that appear on the surface of the back part of the tongue. Also known as papillae, these bumps are the same color as the rest of your tongue. They are barely noticeable under normal circumstances.

They give your tongue a rough texture which aids in food consumption. Papillae also contain taste buds and sensors for temperature. Tongue bumps are common and their occurrence can be as a result of many things such as allergies, infections, and injuries.

They are mostly harmless, however, if they give off a strange feeling or sensation, then, there is a need for concern. When they become enlarged, they cause pain. 

What are the causes of bumps on the back of the tongue?

The bumps on the back of your tongue have many possible causes. Below are some common reasons why bumps appear on the back of your tongue

Cold sores

Cold sores are also known as fever blisters. They are sores caused as a result of herpes or herpes simplex virus (HSV).

They can even appear inside your cheeks and on your lips. The sores usually last between 8 to 10 days and are highly contagious when they occur. The sores start as a fluid-filled blister that bursts after a day or 2 before the healing process begins.

If you have cold sores, it is best to avoid oral contact (E.g., kissing) and sharing of utensils and any items that come into contact with your mouth.

Cold sores are known to heal on their own. However, you can speed up the healing process with antiviral medication. 

Oral thrush

This occurs when a yeast infection develops inside your mouth. This makes the inside of your mouth become red with white patches on your tongue and inner cheeks.

For people with lower immunity, oral thrush can be serious for them (For example, individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer patients, and people who use a steroid spray for asthma).

Oral thrush is usually harmless for most people and can be treated easily with unsweetened yogurt or anti-fungal medication.


Also called smoker’s keratosis, it is a health condition that appears as thick white patches on the inside surfaces of the mouth.

The main symptom of this condition is thickened, white patches on your tongue, gums, the bottom of the mouth, and the insides of your cheeks. These patches cannot be scraped off.

Though leukoplakia patches are usually non-cancerous, some do show early signs of cancer. If you come to notice these patches developing in your mouth, make sure to see a doctor.

The most common cause of this health condition is chronic irritation from tobacco.

Tongue injuries

Another cause of bumps on the back of your tongue is injury to the tongue. An injury to the tongue can cause it to look and feel bumpy.

Swelling will also occur when there is an injury to the tongue. Burns from hot water or hot liquids and hot foods are also another cause of tongue injuries.

Biting of the tongue, which is an unfortunate and painful situation, can also sometimes make the tongue experience bumps that last for a few days after the injury. 

Food allergies

Allergic reactions to certain foods can also cause bumps at the back of your tongue and even make it swell.

A sudden swelling of the whole tongue could be an indicator of a dangerous reaction called anaphylaxis. Seek medical assistance if you are experiencing swelling in your lips, mouth, or tongue, or if you are developing a sudden rash or hives.

Also, seek medical attention when you are having difficulty in breathing. 

Tongue cancer

This is a rare cause. However, tongue cancer can cause a bump on the tongue. A tongue bump is more likely to be cancerous if it grows on the side of the tongue, particularly if it is hard and painless.

It is recommended that you see a doctor or a qualified health professional about any lump or bump that lasts longer than a week or two.

How are bumps on the back of the tongue diagnosed 

A physical exam will be conducted by your doctor to inspect your tongue. In addition to the physical exam, your medical history and food allergies will be used as additional information to help determine or diagnose bumps on your tongue. 

How are bumps on the back of the tongue treated 

The treatment for bumps on the back of your tongue depends on the cause. For example, in the case of oral thrush, antifungal medications are the treatment option. Bacterial infections will require antibiotics as treatment. 

  • Maintaining good oral health can also reduce your chances of getting bumps on the back of your tongue or on any side of your tongue. You can also try the subsequent home remedies
    • Avoid eating acidic and spicy foods until the bumps go away
    • Drink plenty of water 
    • Gargling your mouth with warm salt water and baking soda to rinse the mouth on a regular basis
    • Applying topical remedies to reduce pain. Some products are available to get over the counter or online, like canker sore medication or oral numbing gels
    • Avoiding alcohol-based mouthwashes until the bumps disappear.
    • Brushing their teeth twice daily and flossing a minimum of once each day
    • Rinsing the mouth thoroughly after using steroid inhalers
    • Avoiding foods that irritate the gums
    • Limiting the utilization of sugary snacks and foods which can cause cavities in teeth.
    • Quitting smoking and avoiding using chewing tobacco or any similar products
    • Limiting alcohol
    • Treating any underlying health problems, such as diabetes

The takeaway from this article

Bumps on the back of your tongue usually go away on their own. They are common and can be treated easily if it still persists. Bumps on the tongue can be avoided if you maintain your oral health, drink plenty of water and also avoid eating spicy foods often


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for enochkabange.com and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Solomon Kwesi Otchere (Pharmacist)

Dr. Solomon Kwesi Otchere is a Pharmacist by profession in Ghana. He is passionate about informed healthy lifestyle and diet options necessary for preventing many disease conditions. He also empowers patients and clients to make savvy choices on medications needful to promote good health.

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