Do you have a strawberry tongue that looks swollen and bumpy? A strawberry tongue is a condition that causes swelling and bumps on your tongue.

Having a strawberry tongue is often a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

If you have this condition, your tongue will usually become red.

It may also be white and appear swollen. The color and taste bud bumps on the surface of your tongue and may also look like a strawberry or a raspberry.

Additionally, your tongue will be white for a few days before turning to red color.

Hence the name strawberry tongue.

It is important to note that when you have a strawberry tongue, your tongue will appear bumpy and swollen.

Moreover, it is often a symptom of a food or drug allergy.

This condition is not a condition itself, therefore, diagnosing and treatment of this symptom depend on the treatment of the underlying medical condition.

Thus, your tongue will revert to its normal condition or appearance, when the underlying condition subsides.

Keep on reading to learn more about it.

Causes of Strawberry Tongue

There are a number of conditions that can lead to a strawberry tongue.

Understanding each and every possible cause of it and its unique symptoms can help understand why you may be experiencing such an enlarged, rough tongue.

Conditions that lead to the strawberry tongue are as follows:

  • Kawasaki disease
  • allergies
  • scarlet fever
  • Toxic shock syndrome, TSS.
  • vitamin deficiency

Let’s discuss them as follows:

Kawasaki Disease

This is a rare disease and is not clear what causes its development in some people and not others.

Moreover, it is important to note that Kawasaki Disease is most common in children, however, can affect you at any age.

The primary sign of this disease is inflammation of the arteries.

Additionally, mouse visible symptoms of this condition are as follows:

High fever, rash, red, irritated eyes that have a thick discharge, and peeling skin.

kawasaki disease

Moreover, chapped lips and swelling in the hands and feet are the symptoms of this condition.

It is important to note that if you do not get treatment for this condition, it can develop into lat stages.

The skin of the hands and feet of your child will begin to peel in the form of sheets, and in some cases, children may develop temporary arthritis or joint pain.

Other signs and symptoms are abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, enlarged gallbladder, and temporary hearing loss.


Food and drug allergies can cause a number of symptoms including a strawberry tongue.

Medications and food allergies can also cause a number of symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, rash, scratchy throat, and cause difficulty breathing.

You may develop an allergy as an immune system response to a foreign body that is often not harmful to the body.

These foreign substances or allergens may include certain foods, pollen, or pet dander.

strawberry tongue 2

Your immune system has the ability to fight harmful pathogens and it does so by attacking the foreign cells.

Moreover, depending on the allergens, you may develop sneezing, inflammation, or a couple of other symptoms.

It is important to note that the allergies can be food and seasonal allergies.

Scarlet Fever

If you do not get treatment for strep throat, it can develop into a bacterial infection, Scarlet Fever.

When you are suffering from scarlet fever, it can cause a white strawberry tongue at first, and then your tongue may turn red later.

Other symptoms of scarlet fever are:

A red rash over the entire body, a flushed face, high fever, sore throat, headache, and red lines in the fold of your skin.

strawberry tongue 1

Other signs and symptoms are chills, swollen tonsils, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, swollen glands along the neck, and pale skin around the lips.

These include your elbow, knees, and groin area.

It is important to note that this condition is most common in children from the age of 5 to 15.

Toxic Shock Syndrome, TSS

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare complication that develops with using tampons and nasal gauze packing.

Rather than popular belief, simply leaving in a tampon for a long time does not cause the development of this condition.

TSS develops due to an infection with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.

However, TSS can also be due to the same bacterial species of group A Streptococcus which causes scarlet fever.

Moreover, the makeup of the tampon allows the bacterium to multiply in your body.


According to a study, synthetic, high-absorbing tampons make it easy for a bacterial infection to spread in the body.

Along with strawberry tongue, TSS may cause a high fever, headache, sore throat, aches, pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you suspect having this condition, then you should seek immediate medical attention.

This can be life-threatening if you do not get treatment.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause a strawberry tongue, however, this condition is likely to be diagnosed if you experience more common symptoms.

These symptoms include weakness, fatigue, memory loss, and balance problems.

Vitamin B12 is an important B vitamin that is required for nerve tissue health, brain functions, and the production of red blood cells.

vitamin deficiency

Cobalamin is another name for this vitamin.

Its deficiency can result when levels of vitamin B12 are low and can lead to irreversible neurological symptoms.

It is important to note that in the United States, about 1.5 to 15% of the population has this deficiency.

Visiting a Doctor

In case you develop a strawberry tongue, it is often recommended to consult your doctor. Your doctor can help to diagnose this underlying medical condition.

In some cases, this condition can cause a strawberry tongue as it is not always severe a first.

For instance, it can develop due to vitamin B12 deficiency and your doctor can easily treat it.

However, other conditions that cause a strawberry tone may be more serious, like TSS, and certain allergies can often be life-threatening.


If you think that you are suffering from TSS, or have a severe acute allergic reaction, then you should seek medical emergency treatment.

A severe acute allergic reaction or Anaphylaxis can progress to anaphylactic shock.

The symptoms are facial and throat swelling, trouble breathing, chest pain, fast heart rate, and low blood pressure.

Complications of Conditions causing Strawberry tongue

If you have a swollen tongue, then it can make it hard to eat and you are more likely to bite your tongue.

If the condition causing strawberry tongue is not treated timely, complications can arise. These are:

Kawasaki Disease: If you do not get treatment for KD, it can cause coronary artery aneurysm, CAA, and other problems within your heat.

CAA is a weakness with excess dilation that causes bulging in the area and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease according to a study.


Scarlet Fever: The complications of scarlet fever include rheumatic fever, kidney disease, severe middle ear infection, skin infection, abscess, and lung infection.

Toxic Shock Syndrome: When you do not get treatment for TSS, it can cause your whole body to go into shock and can cause vital organs damage.

Anaphylactic Shock: If you do not receive treatment, this shock can be fatal and can be due to circulatory and breathing problems.

Diagnosis of Strawberry Tongue

One of the simplest ways to diagnose a strawberry tongue is to see what other symptoms you are experiencing with tongue swelling.

The first thing your doctor will ask is about your recent medical history.

Therefore, it is important to explain when you developed these changes to your tongue.

Moreover, tell them about any other symptoms you are experiencing and when they started.

The list of signs and symptoms you explain to your doctor can help them to diagnose the underlying cause, however, some tests can help to confirm the diagnoses.

For instance, if they suspect any vitamin deficiency, your doctor may request a blood test to check vitamin levels in your blood.

Treatment of Strawberry Tongue

The treatment of the strawberry tongue depends on the treatment of underlying medical conditions.

These treatment options are as follows:

Kawasaki Disease: During the first phase of the treatment, your doctor aims to reduce the fever and inflammation as well as preventing heart damage.

Medications like aspirin can help reduce inflammation. Moreover, an injection of the immune system proteins can help to prevent heart damage.

Allergies: For the treatment for less serious symptoms of allergies, an antihistamine can help.

However, for severe reactions, an injection of epinephrine and intravenous steroids may be necessary.

Scarlet Fever: Antibodies can help treat scarlet fever.


Toxic Shock Syndrome: The treatment for TSS includes a number of steps.

Antibiotics help to fight the infection, another medication can help to stabilize blood pressure.

However, if TSS is causing nausea and dehydration from vomiting, you may need fluids.

Vitamin Deficiencies: A change in lifestyle and diet can help to improve vitamin deficiencies.

With the help of eating a balanced diet rich in B vitamins can help boost blood levels.

Moreover, for severe deficiencies, you may need B12 injections to raise your levels.


You might confuse strawberry tongue with Glossitis, however, both these conditions are different.

Glossitis is an inflammatory condition that affects your tongue and can cause your tongue to appear red, glossy, and swollen.

On the other hand, the strawberry tongue is swollen with bumps on the surface due to inflammation and redness. It is important to get treatment for the underlying conditions, as not getting treatment can be life-threatening and fatal.