‘Pimples on Tongue’ is a colloquial term used to refer to the medically known condition Transient Lingual Papillitis. This is a condition wherein fungiform papillae of the tongue become irritated or inflamed. The issue is often localized. Affected individual usually also experience tenderness and pain as well as other symptoms which remain for a very short duration. Pimples on Tongue are informally known as ‘Lie Bumps’. The condition derives its informal name based on a tale according to which pimples occur on tongue if you lie. The condition is usually benign so it is not a matter of concern. Transient Lingual Papillitis is also noncontagious so even if you share a spoon or kiss someone, it will not pass-on.
Tongues surface is covered with little bumps which are termed as papillae. These are responsible for sampling food and sending the information about the taste to the brain. These are also called fungiform papillae which we call as ‘taste buds’. When these papillae get inflamed their reaction is manifested into ulcers that we refer to as Pimple on Tongue.
Pimples on Tongue in Children
When children develop pimples on tongue it may not be the same as in case of adults. In adults the condition is Transient Lingual Papillitis while in kids it is Eruptive Lingual Papillitis. The symptoms of both the conditions are similar. The difference is that Eruptive Lingual Papillitis is contagious. This condition usually affects children when they are approx 5 years old. There is not sufficient information on Pimples on tongue in children. Due to its contagious nature experts believe that the condition is rather an infection.
Misdiagnosis of Pimples on Tongue
In some cases the condition is misdiagnosed as ‘Aphthous ulcer’ or other ulcers of tongue. It should be known that Transient Lingual Papillitis is restricted to the upper surface of the tongue. Aphthous ulcer can affect any region of the oral mucosa. This ulcer often occurs on gums and cheek mucosa. Understanding this difference will help you determine whether you are affected with pimple on tongue or other condition.
Symptoms of Pimple on Tongue
- Pimples on tongue can be detected with white or reddish bumps appearing on tongue. These may look swollen which is why they are lager and distinct from normal papillae
- These pimples are usually painful and tender to touch
- As you eat or drink, these bumps may become irritated as the food causes friction to the surface of pimples
- In some cases Transient Lingual Papillitis makes talking difficult. This is because of excruciating pain or discomfort caused due to size of the pimple
- Swelling may cause the tongue to feel heavier
- If pimples appearing on tongue are caused due to herpes then it may appear yellowish and pus-like liquid may ooze from it. Fever or other flu symptoms may be accompanying
- In case of children with eruptive lingual papillitis excessive saliva production and difficulties with feeding are experienced. In rare cases fever and swollen lymph node may be noticed
Pimple on Tongue – Causes
It is already mentioned that pimples in tongue may appear due to inflammation and irritation of the tongue. It is necessary to understand the causes of irritation and inflammation that would lead to the condition. A plethora of researches conducted to determine the cause of the condition could not conclude about resulting factors. Here are some possible factors that can hypothetically lead to inflamed, irritated papillae on tongue.
- Allergic reaction to things your tongue come in contact with such as food, drinks, etc. It can be either food laden with chemical or pen that you unintentionally chew due to habit.
- Foods that have sharp texture can irritate the papillae in the tongue. These foods may include chips, crackers or nachos.
- Considerable amount of people get affected with pimples on tongue due to overindulgence in sweets
- Highly acidic food can also contribute to inflame and irritate the fungiform papillae
- Pimples may occur on tongue due to some injuries such as biting or scraping
- Yeast infection such as oral candidiasis can also cause the condition. This is a fungal infection which can also cause pimples on other body parts such as groin and armpit
- Stress may also possibly play a role in causing the condition
- It is recorded that vitamin B deficiency can sometimes cause occurrence of pimples
- Digestive system issues can manifest through pimples appearing on the tongue
- Smokers are more prone to the anomaly and seem to be affected with in more often as compared with non-smokers
- Hormonal fluctuations such as those experienced during menstruation can cause occurrence of Transient Lingual Papillitis
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes may lead to such irregularities
- If the occurring pimples are painless then it may be one of the early symptoms of cancer.
In some cases fibroma develops on tongue which appears as a pimple. In fact fibroma is a permanent condition which results when a person accidently bites his/her tongue. These bumps do not ebb away autonomously for years. An oral pathologist can surgically remove it.
Treatment for Pimples on Tongue
Though the condition often does not need any medical treatment, it is best to consult a doctor to be on the safer side. However, in benign cases the condition needs to be left alone as it may cure on its own. If a person is having pain then applying ice packs on the pimples can provide some relief. Ice can also help by reducing swelling to a considerable level. Using tongue-cleaner tool on the affected surface of the tongue removes irritated papillae and cures the condition; however, it may cause irritation and pain initially. This practice is not scientifically supported but adopted by affected people. One can also use sanitized tweezers and remove inflamed papillae; this will provide some relief.
If affected with pimples on tongue the first line of treatment is to maintain hygiene of your mouth. Brush at least twice a day. Rinse your mouth with prescribed good quality mouthwash. If necessary ask your doctor about topical pain reliever or solutions to sooth burning sensation.