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Bumps on Back of Tongue Causes, Treatments, Remedies and More

What causes bumps on the back of tongue? Can it be a sign of cancer in mouth or STDs? How do they look like? Are these bumps treatable? If you have them, worry not, we are going to see their causes, symptoms, treatments, and remedies.

What causes them

bumps on back of tongue
At the base

Read on to get information, reasons why you have bumps on back of your tongue.

1. Enlarged papillae

Do you often or occasionally get small red or white bumps on the surface of tongue, tip or on the back? Don’t worry since they are not that dangerous.

Irritation of papillae can bring about this problem. Here are the factors that cause makes the taste buds or papillae become irritated.

One of the common reasons that account for irritation is spicy food. People who take these types of foods experience tiny bumps on their tongues.

Second is an “allergic reactions trigger swelling of taste buds because the activity of white blood cells is stimulated.” [medlicker.com]. Foods and medicines can cause an allergic reaction to occur. Luckily, not all individuals are allergic to food allergen sources.

Certain infections that affect humans can also contribute to irritation of taste buds. They include sexually transmitted diseases STDs such as Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), syphilis and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

are bumps on tongue signs of an STD
are they a sign of an STD

The other causes of irritated taste buds on back of tongue are smoking, gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux.


NOTE: Some individuals have naturally larger taste buds than others thus more noticeable. However, the bumps can get enlarged as well even with little irritation

2. Trauma

Oral surgery and brushing your tongue roughly and more aggressively can result in trauma. Even though the problem is expected to resolve on its own, failure to observe routine oral care can worsen the bumps due to trauma.

3. HPV warts

Warts on your tongue result from HPV infection. The viruses can be transferred to your mouth after licking infected body parts or putting a finger with the virus in the mouth.

Unlike genital warts, oral warts tend to appear arts will appear slightly different: discolored, wrinkled or spiky. This will help you identify warts. However, go for testing in order to clearly distinguish these bumps on the back of the tongue from others if present.

4. Kawasaki disease – red bumps in children

This disease can produce varied symptoms during the different phases of infection. The signs and symptoms not only observed in or around the mouth but also on the skin including the palms and on soles of feet.

The cause is not well-known. However, acute symptoms can last in weeks after infection and can help in identifying it. The following is experienced by children in Phase I of Kawasaki disease. They include

  • High body temperature
  • Red dry lips with cracks
  • Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes in either location of neck
  • Swollen tongue
  • Red, small lumps of the strawberry fruit
  • Red skin rash on the genital area then later on face, arms and legs

These are other symptoms which follow later on and are long-lasting. Kawasaki disease is common in children under the age of five.

5. Sores

tongue sores cause painful bumps
Painful bumps

The occurrence of tongue sores is less common but most people face this problem at one point in time of their lifetime. These sores usually start out as small, painful red spots. When these spots develop they form an open ulcer.

The most common sores are canker sores.

There is no exact known cause but doctors have theorized and linked the occurrence to a few factors namely: emotional stress, compromised immune system, hormonal shifts and Celiac disease.

Tongue ulcers worsen if they become infected. However, avoid spicy and salty foods when your mouth develop them.

6. Is it a symptom of cancer

Lumps (persistent sores) in the mouth that won’t heal, numbness in tongue, sore throat, hoarseness in voice, chewing and swallowing difficulties are some of the symptoms of cancer in the oral tract.

Other symptoms of oral cancers include

  • Weak or loose teeth
  • Palatal ulceration
  • White or red ulcer-like lumps on oral linings e.g. gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Sometimes oral cancer can be accompanied by smelly lesions e.g. tobacco users

Cancer symptoms in the mouth should be diagnosed and evaluated by dentists. This is crucial to avoid drawing wrong judgment by simply looking at the symptoms such as painless bumps on the back of the tongue that take longer to heal.

7. Other causes 

These bumps have been associated and can be brought about by certain conditions including yeast and human infections e.g. HPV, for instance, white lesions. More causes include:



Besides a change in physical appearance of the tongue surface, common symptoms people experience are a pain, soreness, sore throat, bad taste in mouth, bad breath and coatings.

Red ones

What do red bumps on back of tongue mean? Red bumps on tip, side or back can have specific causes or factors that trigger redness. For instance, sores, Kawasaki disease is responsible for the red lumps.

Other reasons or reasons triggering redness include inflammatory infections such as cold and flu. Irritation of taste buds and repeated injury are other possible triggers.

Have you been diagnosed with a history of allergies or herpes? If you persistently get painful red lumps or big bumps on the back of your tongue see your GP or dentist promptly.

Large, white

Anyone ought to get concerned with the presence of large bumps or lumps in the mouth. Not only on the tongue but also under. More so, if they show up signs of serious bleeding accompanied by endless pain. Those large bumps in mouth whose symptoms persist or last longer than a week could be a dangerous sign to oral health.

Are large white bumps on the back of tongue dangerous? These white bumps may be ulcer spots if they cause discomfort or pain in the mouth. If they are painless flat lesions go for oral cancer test because these are signs of cancer of the mouth. Early signs of cancer may be mistaken for oral problems – diagnosis is important to help rule out other possibilities.


If the bumps do not show any signs of improvements in symptoms or won’t heal healing, call your doctor to plan for an official appointment.

Large tongue bumps and persistence in symptoms do not only require one’s keen eye on them but also urgent medical attention. Sometimes those large painless bumps on back require clinical tests. During diagnosis your dentist will ask for information about symptoms and whether or not you have been received any oral problems before.


Most tongue problems involving bumps can resolve on their own. However, treatment is necessary in case of persisting symptoms like pain and bleeding.

Using oral antibiotics

Antibiotics are used to control infection causing, free-living micro-organisms that increase inflammation. Oral antibiotics target bacteria only thus advisable to get medicines prescribed by a doctor.

Saline solution

Diluted saline can help fight germs in mouth hence promote quick healing of bumps.

Treatment with surgery

Oral cancer patients sometimes require an oral surgery to remove the cancer cells and prevent further spread and growth in the process. This treatment is optional depending on the extent to which the oral mucosa is damaged.


Depending on the kind of symptoms you experience in your mouth and back of the throat remedies can serve a good symptom reliever. These are some of the common remedies.

Cleaning your mouth regularly

Suffering from any kind of tongue problem should not be an excuse to stop cleaning your mouth. In fact, you need regular cleaning to fight germs and bacteria from accumulating in your oral tract. Proper cleaning will also help in doing away with the bad breath.

Sores and ulcers remedy

Tongue sores will obviously cause pain in your mouth. Therefore avoid hot and spicy foods. Most of the meals for people with this problem should consist of beverages until the conditions of sores improve or heal completely. Some of the remedies quite useful include

  1. Applying clove oil or coconut oil for painful sores in mouth
  2. Prepare some aloe water and add to natural honey and gently swirl in mouth
  3. Swish with sage solution once a day

To help reduce pain swishing with salty warm water can help but do not place salt directly on the ulcers.  If that does not work go for prescription pain relievers.

Remedy for inflamed papillae or swollen taste buds

If you experience burning sensation in the mouth it could be caused by inflammation of the papillae. Here is what you can do or avoid at home.

  • Avoid hot foods, spicy beverages, and alcohol if you have an inflamed tongue
  • Eat some yogurt with probiotics to help balance out bacteria in your oral tract
  • For the soothing effect of aloe rinse your mouth once or twice a day. Add some water to your aloe gel and swish
Reference and cited sources
  1. Tongue Bumps Enlarged Papillae and Other problems
  2. Sore or painful tongue
  3. Scarlet Fever: A Group A Streptococcal Infection
  4. 11 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Canker Sores: http://everydayroots.com/canker-sore-remedies
  5. Swollen taste buds: http://medlicker.com/1124-swollen-taste-buds#allergic-reaction-on-the-tongue

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