Do you have red spots on tongue? What might have caused them? This article contain insights on the causes of red bumps on the various parts of the tongue including the tip, sides and under. You will also learn the various treatments that can be employed to get rid of them.

red spots on tongue

red spots on tongue, picture

What Causes Red Spots on Tongue

Having red spots on the tongue can be a worry especially when it is as a result of STDs or cancer. Before you develop that panic, it is better to visit your doctor for diagnosis to find out the exact cause of your problem. In this article we have explained the possible causes of this tongue condition as shown below:

  • Lie bumps or transient lingual papilitis

Both half of adults and children have experienced lie bumps on their tongue at some point in life. They are little red or white bumps that forms on the tongue when the papillae becomes irritated or swollen. The exact cause of this problem is not clearly established.

It is believed that lie bumps are related to hormonal changes in the body, stress, body allergic reactions to allergens or certain infections. They usually disappears on their own with little or no treatment. Lie bumps are quite contagious in children and may be accompanied with other symptoms like fever and swollen lymph nodes

  • Trauma or injury to the tongue

Trauma may cause painful red dots on tongue. Trauma or injury is caused by biting the tongue accidentally, burns from eating hot food and drinks, spicy foods or using a rough brush to tongue cleaner when cleaning the tongue. The red spots disappears upon healing of the injury. Trauma may also cause the tongue to become inflamed, swollen or painful.

  • Canker sores

Cancer sores are also known as aphthous ulcers. They causes painful sores with white or yellowish center with a red base. Apart from red spots on tongue, they can develop on any other area of your mouth including side of the cheeks, on the gums, roof of the mouth and under or on the surface of the tongue.

The good news is that, this condition may heal on its own without medication within 1 to 2 weeks. However, you may use over-the-counter medicines to relieve the discomfort. Severe infection may cause fever and swollen lymph nodes, you may be required to visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

  • Allergy

Body allergic reaction to different allergens found in food, medications and chemicals can cause red bumps on tongue. An allergic reaction is always accompanied with other symptoms like swollen mouth sides, lips and tongue, inflammation or sore throat, dizziness, difficulties in breathing or vomiting. This normally happens after some time of encountering an allergen.

  • Oral thrush

    red patches on tongue

    red patches on tongue

Oral thrush is also known as oral candidiasis, it is a yeast infection that causes red spots to appear on the tongue. You are likely to experience this condition under the following circumstances: when you have taken antibiotics recently, having weak body immune system, practicing improper oral hygiene, wearing un-fit dentures or when suffering from diabetes.

Oral thrush can easily be treated by using over the counter antifungal medicines such as tablets, gels or liquids that are applied directly on the sores. You should not hesitate to see your doctors when the symptoms persists or when experiencing excessive inflammation in the mouth.

  • Inflamed or enlarged papillae

Inflamed papillae can also cause red spots on tongue.  This can be caused by taking hot drinks and food. An inflamed tongue is characterized by swelling and pain and can be relieved by taking over-the-counter pain relievers.

  • scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is an infection that is caused by streptococcal bacteria. This infection causes red spots on tongue and sore throat. It can also be accompanied with other symptoms like high fever, sore throat, headache and nausea among others.

It is also likely to affect other parts of your body including the upper parts of your chest, lips, inside your mouth and even the lower parts of the tongue. This infection can easily be treated using antibiotics. However, if the symptoms persist don’t hesitate to visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

  • oral cancer

Oral cancer can also affect different parts of your mouth including the front area of tongue. When in its early stages, it causes painless bumps on different parts on the mouth including the tongue which does not go away easily.

Oral cancer is also accompanied with other symptoms such as numbness of any part of the mouth, pain while chewing and swallowing food and drinks, bumps in the mouth that are resistance to some of the home remedies treatment and some pain while speaking or moving the tongue.

  • Viral infections

Viral infections such as oral herpes or herpes simplex virus causes a cluster of red and painful bumps on the various parts of the mouth including the mouth, lips or tongue. Bumps as a result of viral infection usually develops after having unprotected or oral sex with an infected person.

They usually occurs within a period of 7 to 10 days. Taking antiviral medicines does not help to treat this condition but it helps to relieve the symptoms and fastens the healing process. Herpes can also affect other parts of your body including the genitals.

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency

Lack or inadequate vitamins B-12 in your diet can cause red spots on tongue. Taking a diet that is rich in vitamin B-12 can help to fix this condition. Ensure that your diet contains liver, fortified cereals, red meat, skimmed milk, cheese, eggs, fortified soy products, mackerel fish, shell fish and crustaceans.

Iron deficiency results to pernicious anemia which may also cause red spots on back of tongue and other parts. This condition also causes other symptoms that includes weight loss, heartburn, nausea, and depression among others. Take iron and vitamin supplements to get rid of this condition.

  • Kawasaki disease

    small red dots on tongue

    small red dots on tongue

This is an infection that commonly affects children who are below the age of 5 years old. It affects the blood vessels which leads to red dots on tongue. The other parts of the body that can be affected includes the mouth, lymph nodes and the skin.

This infection is characterized by fever, purple and swollen feet soles and palms, enlarged lymph nodes, dry skin, white coated tongues and rashes on different parts of the body including stomach, chest or genitals. Take your kid to a health care provider for treatment right away after observing the mentioned symptoms.

  • Digestive disorders

There are various digestive disorders that may cause red bumps to appear on your tongue. Acid reflux is the common digestive condition that results to red bumps on the tongue when it is regurgitated from the stomach to the tongue surface. You can experience other symptoms like heartburn, hiccups or bloating.

  • Circumvallate papillae

Red pumps at the back of your tongue that tends to be bigger in size than those that appears at the tip are known as circumvallate papillae. This type of tongue bumps are always there at the back of the tongue and may become prominent or swollen when you are having an infection, sore throat or trauma to the tongue.

  • Geographic tongue

Geographic tongue is also known as benign migratory or oral erythema migrans.  It is a condition that results to irregular red patches with a white line to appear on the surface of the tongue. It causes sensitivity of the tongue to certain food and drinks.

The red patches usually disappears within 1-4 weeks and may also re-appears on a different part of the tongue. This condition may heal on its own within some time. Seek medical treatment when this condition becomes persistence over a long period of time.

  • Strawberry tongue

Strawberry tongue is also a condition that causes red spots on tongue. This condition causes the tongue to change the color from its normal pink to red. It causes the taste buds to become swollen or inflamed.

  • Other causes includes the following: Hand, foot and mouth disease, strep throat, excessive body heat, asthma, excessive smoking, eczema and ulcers.

Bumps on the tongue may disappear on their own with little or no treatment when the cause is not very serious. However, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor when the bumps becomes swollen, inflamed, excessively painful or when you don’t understand the cause of your problem. You are also supposed to be diagnosed and treated for painless bumps that does not go away easily.

Red Spots on Back of Tongue

red spots on back of tongue

red spots on back of tongue

There are various reasons that can cause red bumps to appear on back of tongue. Although most of the bumps may not be serious but it is a good idea to identify the cause of the spots and seek the necessary treatment.

Some of the red spots can easily be eliminated by making some adjustments on your lifestyle while those that are as a result of serious conditions may require medical treatment. Here are some causes of this tongue problem:

  1. Inflamed papillae

The tongue surface contains small bumps called papillae and when inflamed they can become swollen and generally show up as red spots on the tongue. Inflammation of the papillae can result from various conditions like trauma or injury to the tongue which may result from biting the tongue, eating very hot food or drinks and very salty, sugary or spicy foods.

  1. Circumvallate papillae

Circumvallate papillae are those bumps that appears on the extreme end of your tongue, they are bigger in size as compared to those that appears on the tip. These bumps becomes red and more prominent when having sore throat or other throat infections.

Other causes

There is also a number of things that can cause red spots on back of tongue. The common causes includes allergies, trauma or injury, cold sores, scarlet fever, Kawasaki disease, syphilis, oral cancer, canker sores, leukoplakia and hand, foot and mouth disease among others.

Some of the red spots on tongue can become inflamed, swollen or painful. There are various home remedies treatment that can help to relieve the discomfort. They includes the following:

  • Gargle salt water in your mouth twice or thrice a day. It helps to reduce inflammation and the size of the bumps. Salt solution also prevents the infection from spreading to other parts of your tongue.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene of your mouth and tongue by brushing your teeth after every meal and floss regularly to prevent bacterial infection on the tongue.
  • Avoid eating food that may irritate your taste buds such as hot, very salty or sugary, spicy, and fatty. They mare worsen your condition.
  • Clean your mouth daily using medical proven mouthwash to keep away bacterial infections.
  • Chewing mint leaves before going to bed can help to reduce the size of the bumps while preventing new ones from developing.
  • Apply a cold compress to your tongue by putting ice chips directly to the bumps. It helps to reduce inflammation and other discomforts.
  • Taking vitamin and iron supplements may also help to get rid of bumps that are caused by nutritional deficiencies.
  • Use over-the-counter products such as topical creams and ibuprofen to relieve the pain and other discomforts.
  • A mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are also effective for treating the bumps. Mix to form a paste and apply directly to the affected part.
  • The size of the pimples can be reduced by applying magnesia milk to the bumps twice a day.

However, when the bumps resist home remedies treatment, persists for a long time or becomes excessively painful. It is a good idea to visit your doctor for diagnosing and treatment. Some of the red spots on tongue are caused by serious medical conditions that requires prescription medicines.

Small Red Dots on Tongue Causes

Small red spots on the tongue can be caused by injury, allergic reactions, nutritional deficiencies, specific medical conditions, smoking, cancer sores, scarlet fever, stomatitis, herpes, burning tongue syndrome, inflamed papillae, oral thrush, Kawasaki diseased, oral cancer or leukoplakia.

They are characterized by various symptoms like painful or painless, burning sensation or inflammation of the tongue especially when taking hot food or drinks. You may also experience some difficulties when chewing or swallowing food, speaking or when laughing.

The other symptoms may include fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat or nausea especially when the red spots on tongue are caused by an infection.

Most of the bumps may disappear on their own with little or no treatment. However, sometimes they may become excessively painful, swollen, inflamed or persistence and may require a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment. You should also check for painless and persistence bumps as they may result from serious health conditions.

Red Spots on Tip, Under or Side of Tongue

red spots under tongue

red spots under tongue

Red spots can develop on different parts of your tongue including the tip of your tongue, side of the tongue, under the tongue or at the back. They may be small or big in size depending with the cause. There are various causes that can result to bumps on the tongue as you read earlier.

The bumps can also appear under your tongue as a result of allergic reactions, cancer sores, injury or trauma, oral cancer, salivary duct stones or irritation to the tongue. Using some of the home remedies treatment can help to relieve the pain and other discomforts caused by this condition.

However, an effective treatment requires a doctor’s diagnosis to determine the exact cause of your condition. You will be given prescription medicines or you may be required to buy over-the-counter medicines to treat your condition.

Red Dots on Tongue STD, Sore Throat

Sexually transmitted infections or diseases also causes red spots on tongue and sore throat. Syphilis is the common infection that causes this problem and it usually starts with tiny, painless sores that easily goes away after some time.

After the initial stage, it will be followed by a rash or more sores that will also disappear after some time. The sores may develop on other parts of the body like vulva, vagina, and tip of the penis, cervix or lips. The sores will appear on the mouth and tongue during the secondary stage.

When syphilis is discovered in its early stages, it can easily be treated using antibiotics. However, it can lead to various body complications or death when left untreated. Weakened body immune system due to HIV and Aids can also trigger other infections to cause bumps on the tongue.

Red Dots on Tongue not Painful

Red spots on tongue that are not painful may be as a results of serious conditions like oral cancer. It can affect different parts of your mouth including sides of mouth, lips, part of your front tongue including the under surface.

Mouth cancer does not cause any pain during its early stages. It starts by developing small or tiny dots on any part of the mouth including the tongue. You can easily confuse them with mouth cold sore but the only difference is that, they are persistence and don’t go away easily.

Mouth cancer is usually characterized by other symptoms that includes persistent sore on the tongue that bleeds easily, numbness or tenderness of any part of your tongue, sore throat, flat cells on the surface of the mouth and problems when chewing or swallowing food.

Most of the red dots on tongue normally heals within a period of two weeks. However, you should get worried with those that persist for more than two weeks. Visit your doctor to determine the exact cause of painless bumps on tongue. If it is caused by cancer, there are various treatments that may be offered that includes surgery, drug therapy, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

There are also other causes that can result to painless red spots on tongue that includes smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or geographic tongue. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol responsibly can help to fix this condition.

Red Spots on Tongue Pictures

After reading the various causes and treatment of red bumps on the tongue, we have included some pictures in this post that will help you to understand visually how they look like. They also shows the different parts of the tongue where the pimples are likely to appear depending with the cause.

You May Also Like:

  1. Bumps on Back of Tongue, White, Red, Big, Sides, Sore Throat, STD, Strep, Enlarged Papillae, Causes, Treatment, Pictures
  2. Bumps on Side of Tongue, in the Back, Lip, Painful, Sore Throat, Lie, STD, Treatment
  3. Red Bumps on Tongue, Back, Front, STD, Hurt, Pictures, and Sore Throat, White Coating, Get Rid
  4. White Bumps on Tongue, Back, Tip, Side, Under Pictures, STD, Sore Throat, Get Rid, Treatment and Pictures
  5. Blisters on Tongue, Pictures, Back, Side, Tip, Child or Toddler, Fever, Water, Blood, How to Get Rid of It and Treatment
  6. Tongue Swelling, Sudden, One Side, Underneath, Pain, Thyroid, Anxiety, Causes and Treatment
  7. Sores on Tongue Pictures, on Side, Tip, Back, White, Canker, STD, Get Rid

More sources and references:

  1. Bumps on tongue:
  2. Sore or painful tongue:
  3. Red bumps way back on the tongue:
  4. Tongue bumps: