Do you see circular bumps on tongue?

These are the fungiform papillae.

They are present on the top surface and the side of your tongue.

While in most conditions they are normal and give your tongue a rough texture that allows you to eat, these bumps can also inflame.

There can be several reasons behind that sometimes even indicating a serious health concern.

This article discusses all the causes behind the bumps present on your tongue and how you can possibly treat them.

Keep reading below to know more!

concerning lesions

Concerning Causes Behind Bumps on Tongue

Oral or Tongue Cancer

Usually, the tongue bumps are not of serious nature.

However, some of these can be a symptom of something more dangerous.

Cancerous bumps make their appearance on the side of your tongue.

Though they can also grow on the back, front of the tongue and at the base.

The bump can be cancerous when it is hard and does not pain.

Usually, in oral cancer, the bump is pink, red or gray in color.

It is on the front of the tongue and there can be resulting bleeding when you slightly touch it.

Mouth cancer bumps can alo occur at the back.

That is even more difficult to detect as they are painless and difficult to see.

Most of these cancers on the tongue are squamous cell carcinoma.

If your bump bleeds and is hard, you should let your doctor check it once.

They will take a biopsy and then choose the appropriate treatment whether it is chemotherapy, radiation or surgery or all of these.

Cancer is usually the most serious of all of the causes behind bumps.

However, both oral and tongue cancer is quite rare.

Scarlet Fever 

A scarlet fever results in small bumps on the tongue which is a condition called the strawberry tongue.

The name comes from the swollen and red appearance of the tongue with lots of bumps.

While the bacterial infection can be treated using antibiotics, there can be complications such as pneumonia, kidney disease and rheumatic fever.

Hence, you need to take it seriously and treat it on time whenever you detect it.

What’s more, it is rather contagious so it can spread quickly.

Another condition you need to be wary of is oral herpes. More on that below!

bumps on tongue that need medical treatment

Bumps on Tongue that Need Immediate Medical Treatment

Oral Herpes 

A sign of oral herpes is the development of cold sore blisters around your mouth area.

These painful blisters can also be present on the gums and tongue.

They can last for a long time.

The reason you should get immediate treatment is that this is a contagious disease.

It can spread through contact with the area where the sore is present.

Moreover, it can also spread through the lining of the tongue and the mouth as well as the saliva.


This life-threatening bacterial infection needs immediate treatment.

Firstly, a painless sore appears and that is followed by a rash.

The bumps and sores keep appearing.

While it is easily treatable using an antibiotic, it can get serious if your leave it untreated.

As the disease is left untreated the sores can increase spreading to the mouth and tongue even proving to be fatal.


This dangerous disease affects the lungs.

However, it can also result in sores for people around the rest of their bodies.

The sores on the tongue represent the first signs of tuberculosis even if they are quite rare.

Therefore, be especially vigilant about the bumps that appear on your tongue.

Traumatic Fibroma 

A pink tongue growth that is also smooth is known as a traumatic fibroma.

It results from chronic irritation.

However, you will have to see the doctor because it needs to be surgically removed sometimes.


While several allergies can cause bumps to appear, an entirely swollen tongue can actually be a sign of a serious reaction.

Food allergies and intolerances can cause anaphylaxis.

Thus if you see any symptoms, such as bumps along with swelling of the mouth, lips and tongue then consult the doctor.

Other symptoms include rash, hives as well as difficulty breathing.

infectious lesions

Other Conditions Causing Bumps

Oral Thrush 

This is a yeast infection by the Candida fungus.

While the fungus is present in your mouth, the infection occurs because of its overgrowth.

Babies and older adults can develop oral thrush.

People at risk for the infection are those with:

  • corticosteroids present in inhalers
  • dry mouth
  • diabetes
  • medical conditions that weaken the immune system such as HIV

While there are usually white patches on the tongue, there can be redness and soreness too.

Lymphoepithelial cysts

A cyst, yellow in color is appears beneath the tongue.

These are benign cysts without a proper cause and are easily removable.


Foods that irritate the tongue are usually sour or acidic.

As they cause irritation in the lips and gums, as well as the tongue then bumps start to appear.

Usually, dietary changes are behind the sore and raw feeling.

Moreover, the tongue may swell because of being bitten or because of an injury.

The healthy bacteria present in the mouth can get in the tongue’s tissues and then cause swelling.

However, if the bumps are painful then they need immediate medical attention.


Your tongue becomes smoother rather than bumpy in glossitis.

The inflammation in the tongue is because of smoking, irritants and allergic reaction.

canker sores

Canker Sores 

The most common form of sores inside your mouth is canker sores.

These can occur throughout your mouth even beneath the tongue.

They are painful as well as raw.

Moreover, they are red, yellow or white.

However, they are not contagious and can usually the over-the-counter medicines will relieve the symptoms in 10 days.

Certain foods can cause them though an exact cause is unknown.

If they do not go away on their own and are extremely painful then you have no other option left than to see your doctor.

Lie Bumps

Transient lingual papillitis or commonly known as lie bumps are red and white bumps forming on your tongue.

Don’t worry! These do not appear when you lie.

But actually because of the inflammation of papillae.

This happens when they swell and are irritated maybe because of stress and hormones.

The bumps are not only painful but also cause sensitivity and burning sensation.

These can easily go away without any treatment.

However, they can recur frequently.

Injury to the Tongue 

The tongue responds to an injury just like the rest of your body.

Hence, your tongue swells and a bump appears.

For instance, biting your tongue, drinking hot beverages and eating hot food can lead to a bump.

dental visit for bumps on tongue

When Should You Visit a Doctor?

A medical emergency is only when you are getting anaphylaxis possibly due to an allergic reaction.

Your tongue swells to the extent you have trouble breathing.

However, you should not wait on seeing your doctor if you are feeling intense pain in the bump.

It is also a concern if the pain is followed by a fever.

Though, mostly the symptoms can go on their own after a few days.

If they don’t then they may be pointing towards something serious.

See your doctor if the symptoms still exist beyond a week.

Recurring bumps and growing ones are also a cause for concern.

Hence, if they hurt, are continuously coming back and are becoming painful then your doctor will need to diagnose it.

Your doctor will ask for food allergies and check your bumps.

Moreover, they may take a biopsy if they think it is cancerous.

Or blood tests in order to check for infections like tuberculosis and syphilis.

In certain cases, like the presence of a cyst, your doctor may recommend getting surgery.

There are other treatments for the bumps too depending on their causes.

Let’s find out about them below!

treating lesions

Treating the Bumps on Tongue

  • Antifungal medicines for oral thrush
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infection
  • Antiviral medicines for herpes
  • Treating the conditions that reduce immunity hence reducing the likelihood of the bumps returning

Hence, the treatment depends on the cause.

If it is a bacterial infection then antibiotics can work for you.

Other than that, you can make use of some home remedies in order to not exacerbate the symptoms.

Home Remedies 

  • Drinking lots of water so there are fewer bacteria attacking your teeth and gums
  • Reducing pain using topical ointments such as OTC numbing gels
  • Gargle your mouth with water and baking soda
  • Do not use alcohol-based products such as mouthwashes rather use those rinses that are without any alcohol content
  • Refrain from eating acidic and spicy foods
  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice and flossing once a day
  • Quit smoking and chewing tobacco usage whereas limiting alcohol
  • Don’t forget to rinse your mouth after you use an inhaler
  • Refrain from eating lots of sugary snacks
  • Visit your dentist regularly


If any of the bumps on tongue do not resolve in by a week using OTC treatment and remedies then visit your doctor.

It could be due to a serious underlying condition such as oral cancer.

Hence, do not delay treatment when you see bumps appearing and recurring.