Sores on tongue are common and may be painful or painless. They can appear on the tip of tongue, side of tongue, back of tongue or under the tongue. Although they are usually white or red, they can have various appearances that can be best described by pictures. Explore pictures, causes, signs and symptoms of sores on tongue. Also, learn how to get rid of them using medical treatments and home remedies.
Summary of Page Contents
- Signs and Symptoms of Sores on Tongue
- Sores on Tongue Pictures
- Sores on Tongue Causes
- 1. Injuries
- 2. Infections
- 3. Canker Sores
- 4. Geographic Tongue
- 5. Lie Bumps (Transient Lingual Papillitis)
- 6. Allergies (Food Sensitivity)
- 7. Smoking
- 8. Neuralgia
- 9. Lichen planus
- 10. Behcet’s disease
- 11. Vitamin Deficiency
- 12. Moeller’s Glossitis
- 13. Some Medications
- 14. Pemphigus Vulgaris
- 15. Glossodynia (Burning Tongue Syndrome)
- 16. Oral Cancer
- Painful Sores on Tongue
- Sores under Tongue
- Sores on Tip of Tongue
- Sores on Side of Tongue
- Sores on Back of Tongue
- Red Sores on Tongue
- White Sores on Tongue
- Sores on Tongue STD
- How to Get Rid of Sores on Tongue
- When to See a Doctor over Sores on Tongue
- Sources and References
Signs and Symptoms of Sores on Tongue
The overall signs and symptoms ort a patient with sores of tongue usually vary. This is because different causes of sores on tongue are accompanied by different signs and symptoms. However, the general signs and symptoms of sores in mouth include:
- Pain on tongue
- Lesions on tongue
- Irritation and inflammation on tongue
- Feeling mounds of tissue on tongue
- Raised lesions – Lumps or bumps on tongue
- dry mouth,
Sores on Tongue Pictures
What do sores on tongue look like? Basically, the appearance of tongue sores depends largely on what causes them. The pictures or images inserted in different sections of this post show the appearance of some of the sores on tongue as a result of various causes. Through the pictures, you are able to assess your tongue problems and have an idea of what the problem could be.
Sores on Tongue Causes
There are very many causes of sores on tongue ranging from infectious to noninfectious conditions. Whereas some of the causes are harmless and heal on their own, others may be very serious and pose danger to your health. The common conditions that can lead to sores on tongue include:
Sores on tongue are commonly caused by mouth injuries that involve the tongue. The common causes of trauma to your tongue are:
You can get injuries on your tongue when you accidentally bite it. This can happen while you are talking, eating or when you accidentally hit yourself of an obstacle, for example during sports. The bites will definitely become painful sores in your mouth for some days.
Another common way of injuring your tongue is trying to eat hot food. The hot food may burn it and even cause blisters on it, resulting in painful sores. Tongue burns tend to last longer that bites but it also depends on the seriousness of the burns that you get on your tongue
The infections that can cause sores in your mouth include cold sores oral thrush squamous papilloma syphilis and hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
(a) Cold Sores
When your mouth gets infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV), you usually develop cold sores on tongue. There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Both of the two types of virus can cause sores on tongue and around the mouth, a condition called herpes labialis. The viruses can also cause sores on both male and female the genitals, a condition called genital herpes.
Although cold sores generally appear on the outer parts of the mouth such as outer lips, it can also appear inside the mouth, including the tongue. Usually, the sores that develop inside the mouth are the canker sores, which do not result from an infection.
(b) Oral Thrush
Oral thrush, also called candidiasis, is a type of yeast infection that may cause sores and pain on your tongue. Usually, Oral thrush causes patches that look like cottage cheese on the tongue.
Oral thrush tends to affect babies more than adults. Also, is more likely to affect individuals who wear dentures. Other risk factors for oral thrush include awakened immune system, having used antibiotics recently and use steroid inhalers to manage asthma.
(c) Squamous Papilloma
Squamous papilloma is an infection that is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV). It usually causes a single unevenly shaped painful bump on tongue. The condition can be treated by surgical means or by laser ablation. There’s no cure for HPV. However, symptoms of the infection are addressed separately.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), also called sexually transmitted disease (STD). It usually develops a small sore on the genital at the onset, followed by a rush.
As the disease advances, more on and off sores develop on the genitals. In its secondary stage, it becomes serious and usually causes sores on tongue and mouth in general. This a serious stage of the disease that may be fatal without immediate proper medication.
(e) Scarlet Fever
Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection that causes what is commons known as ‘strawberry tongue’. This a condition that results in sores that make the tongue appear like a red, swollen and bumpy.
Mild forms of scarlet fever are usually treated with antibiotics. However, in rare cases, the infection can lead to complications such as rheumatic fever, pneumonia, and kidney disease
(f) Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a disease that causes painful sores inside or on the mouth. The sores also appear on hands and feet, and rarely on buttocks and legs.
Usually, the disease lasts not more than one week or two. It is common in children although can also occur in adults. It is caused by a virus called an enterovirus. The virus that causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease can be spread easily through coughing and sneezing and also through infected stool
3. Canker Sores
Canker sores or Aphthous ulcers are a form of painful mouth ulcers that usually appear in the mouth, including on tongue, inside of cheeks. Much as they may painful, they are usually harmless and clear up by themselves within one or two weeks.
Canker sores do not develop as a result of an infection. They are often confused with cold sores, which are caused by an infection. As such, they are not contagious and hence cannot be transmitted from one individual to another.
The actual cause of canker sores is not known. However, it is thought to be caused by accidental biting, hard food, poorly fitting dentures and defective fillings.
Other causes of canker sores include stress and anxiety, hormonal changes, eating certain foods, toothpaste that sodium lauryl sulphate, and a weakened immune system.
4. Geographic Tongue
Geographic tongue is a condition that is characterized by irregular smooth, red sores or patches with white or light-colored borders on tongue. The name of the condition is derived from the map-like appearance of the patches.
Whereas the patches may be painless in some cases, they can feel sore or sensitive in other cases, especially while having certain foods and drinks. The condition may improve on its own but in case it is persistent, see your doctor.
5. Lie Bumps (Transient Lingual Papillitis)
Lie bumps are bumps or sores on tongue that constitute a condition that is medically called transient lingual papillitis. They are little white or red bumps formed when lingual papillae become irritated and swollen. Although the causes of lie bumps are not known, there is a close link to factors like stress, hormonal imbalance, or certain foods.
Usually, lie bumps clear upon their own after about 2 weeks. However, you can speed up their healing using saltwater rinses or eating cold foods, which will also relieve pain and inflammation.
6. Allergies (Food Sensitivity)
Eating raw fruits, vegetables, and certain tree nuts may result in an a food sensitivity allergic reaction called e oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food syndrome. This condition usually causes sores on tongue together with an itchy mouth, scratchy throat and swelling on tongue and lips.
This condition usually happens to older children adolescents and young adults. It normally clears up on its own. However, if the symptoms persist, visit your doctor for treatment. If you develop sores after eating, it is probable that what you ate is caused allergic reactions leading to the sores.
Tobacco smoking can cause pain and sores on tongue. This also happens just after you stop smoking. Tobacco smoking also puts you at the risk of developing mouth and throat cancer. Tobacco also causes other health problems, including:
- yellow or black teeth stains
- bad breath
- Loss of teeth due to decay
- hairy tongue due to the growth of bacteria and yeast
- Discolored gums – brown spots
- thickened and discolored mouth roof – pale or white
According to a 2010 report from the U.S. surgeon general for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you stop smoking today, you are likely to reduce the risk of developing mouth cancer within five years by half.
Nerve irritation or damage can cause Neuralgia which may cause recurring tongue pain. The pain caused by this condition is intense and usually occurs on tongue, or in throat, tonsils and ears.
The cause of this condition is not known although it is associated with throat cancer. It is usually treated with painkillers or surgery in case it is too severe.
9. Lichen planus
Lichen planus is a rare chronic skin problem that can cause sores on your tongue. The symptoms of this condition include and itchy rash on your skin, and pain and white or red patches on tongue. It is also possible to develop painful red gums and you may feel a burning sensation when eating or drinking.
10. Behcet’s disease
Behcet’s disease is a condition that causes inflammation in blood vessels in the whole of your body. Rarely, it can cause pain and sores that resemble cancer sores on tongue or in mouth.
These sores usually begin as irritated bumpy lesions that are round in shape and can las from one to three weeks. The sores may recur later. Other symptoms of Behcet’s disease include pimple-like sores on skin, inflamed eyes, pain in joints and digestive problems.
11. Vitamin Deficiency
A deficiency in certain nutrients such as vitamins vitamin B-12, iron, or folate, may also lead to the formation of red sores in mouth. On the other hand, low levels of zinc can cause pain and burning tongue.
Treatment of mild vitamin deficiency usually involves eating a well-balanced diet, with emphasis on the deficient nutrients. However, for severe deficiency, it may involve taking supplements and/or vitamin injections in addition to the diet therapy
12. Moeller’s Glossitis
Moeller’s glossitis is a rare type of inflammation on the tongue which may cause pain irritation or burning sensation. It is also commonly known as atrophic glossitis, “bald tongue” or “smooth tongue”, to describe a smooth tongue as a result of the condition.
Moeller’s glossitis is usually associated with nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B-12 deficiency or anemia and celiac disease.
13. Some Medications
Medications such as naproxen and beta-blockers used as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcerous sores on your tongue. Also, some mouthwashes and other substances taken for health purposes cause irritation and sores on your tongue.
14. Pemphigus Vulgaris
Pemphigus vulgaris is a rare condition that may cause painful blister-like sores on tongue, mouth or genitals. The sores may get infected when they burst and ooze, making it so painful to chew and swallow. It is treated by therapies similar to those used to treat burns.
15. Glossodynia (Burning Tongue Syndrome)
As the name suggests, burning tongue syndrome cause pain that feels like a burning sensation on your tongue. This pain also affects the inside of your cheeks, lips, gums, and roof of mouth.
This a very rare condition that can cause distress to your mouth. The symptoms of this condition may happen suddenly or develop gradually over time. It is usually accompanied by dry mouth and change or a loss of taste.
16. Oral Cancer
A very rare cause of sores in mouth is oral cancer. Oral cancer may appear as a lump or sore that does not go away. Other common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- pain when chewing
- pain when swallowing
- teeth that are loose
- sores that do not heal
- sores that may bleed
- thickening of the skin that lines your mouth
Oral cancer might be tricky because it may occur without clear signs, including painless bumps in mouth ate the onset. Therefore, see your doctor if you feel a lump on tongue or mouth for two or more meek, even if the lumps are not painful.
Painful Sores on Tongue
Most of the sores on tongue are usually painful and hurting. However, taking acidic, spicy or hot foods may aggravate the pain. Nevertheless, it is possible to have painless sores on tongue or the pain might be on and off.
Sores under Tongue
If you have sores under your tongue, they are very likely to be canker sores. However, other causes can also produce sores under tongue. Therefore, if the sores fail to clear up within two weeks, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Sores on Tip of Tongue
The common cause of burning sensation on the tip of tongue is the burning mouth syndrome. This is often caused by depression. Burns and bites are also likely to occur on the tip of your tongue. However, this does not rule out other possible causes.
Sores on Side of Tongue
Sores on side of tongue are most likely as a result of injuries caused by biting yourself. However, this does not rule out all the other possibilities, especially when you do not remember having bitten yourself. If the sores on tip of tongue appear together with sores in other parts of the mouth, it is unlikely that you bit yourself.
Sores on Back of Tongue
Most of the conditions discussed in the earlier sections of this post can cause sores at the back of tongue. However, the common cause is lie bumps and canker sores.
Red Sores on Tongue
If you have red sores on tongue, the possible causes include canker sores, vitamin deficiency, scarlet fever, oral cancer, lie bumps. However, some of the conditions that cause red spots on tongue also cause white spots on tongue, for example, oral cancer. Therefore, it is vital to go for diagnosis unless the cause is clearly established for example injuries.
White Sores on Tongue
Most of conditions can cause white spots on tongue, although some may also cause red sores on tongue Unless the cause is clear, see your doctor for diagnosis to rule out dangerous conditions like cancer, especially when the white sores last for more than two weeks or keep recurring
Sores on Tongue STD
One of the STDs or STIs that cause sores on your tongue syphilis. By the time sores are forming on your tongue, the disease is already in an advanced and dangerous stage and requires to be treated immediately. The advanced stage can be avoided it is diagnosed and treated at earlier stages. The early symptoms of this disease include a small sore on the genitals, followed by a rush.
How to Get Rid of Sores on Tongue
The method of getting rid of sores on tongue depends on the cause of the sores. Whereas home remedies can be used to get rid of sores on tongue as a result of conditions which are not serious like canker sores, other conditions like cancer require proper diagnosis and treatment. The simple rule is, in case home remedies cannot get rid of the sores within one or two weeks, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment
Home Remedies for Sored of Tongue
Home remedies are generally applied in cases where the causes do not pose any serious harm to your health. Such cases include canker sores and minor injuries, lie bumps and allergies. Common home remedies for sores on tongue include the following.
- Place ice chips in your mouth and let them dissolve slowly on the tongue for relief of pain.
- In case of vitamin deficiency, use the recommended diet and take supplementation as prescribed by a doctor.
- Mix milk of magnesia with Benadryl liquid and use as the mixture to rinse your mouth. Alternatively, dab the milk of magnesia directly onto the sores using a cotton swab.
- Rinse your mouth with salt solution. To prepare the solution add 1 teaspoon of salt in half a cup water and stir it
- Rinse your mouth with a baking soda rinse. To prepare the solution add 1 teaspoon of baking soda in half a cup water and stir it.
- Take zinc lozenges for pain relief and fast healing. Never give lozenges to young children because they may get choked easily.
- Take, Vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and lysine orally as soon as you see the first signs of the sores to speed up the healing process.
- Steep chamomile and sage herbs in water use the resulting solution as mouthwash about 4 times daily for a couple of days.
- Prepare Echinacea herb tea and use it to help speed up the healing process or the sores
- Apply a juice made from carrot, celery or cantaloupe to help relieve pain on the tongue and speed up the healing process or the sores on your tongue
- You can also use natural remedies such as goldenseal mouth rinse or gaggle deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) in warm water.
- Apply topical over-the-counter medications such as benzocaine directly on the sores, or take their alternative oral medications to relieve pain or inflammation.
How to Care For Sores On Tongue
- Avoid irritating sores on your tongue while brushing. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush them gently and carefully.
- Do not aggravate the condition. Avoid spicy foods or acidic foods such as citrus fruits or any other foods that may irritate the tongue.
- Do not use toothpaste or mouthwash that contains sodium lauryl sulfate as these may irritate the sores and hinder their healing.
Medical Treatment for Sores on Tongue
There is no single uniform treatment for sores o tongue. Rather, the treatment of the sores is based on the specific causes. If the sores are caused by underlying conditions, treating the condition will usually clear them up.
In general, doctors use medical treatments to cure underlying conditions or diseases causing the sores on your tongue. Minor causes usually resolve on their own or through care and home remedies.
See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment if the sores last for more than two weeks. The doctor will prescribe you with the appropriate medications infections and diseases causing sores on your tongue such as.
- Cold Sore
- oral Thrush
- Scarlet fever
- Squamous papilloma
- Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
When to See a Doctor over Sores on Tongue
It is advisable to see your doctor when you notice any strange changes on your tongue. The changes include color change, bumps, lumps or sores that have lasted for two or more weeks without healing whether or not you tried treating them at home.
This is because the sores on your tongue could be an indication of serious, although rare, conditions such as pemphigus vulgaris and oral cancer. Your doctor will carry out a diagnosis to rule out such conditions or treat them in case they exist.
It is important to that it is easy, painless and less expensive to treat cancer at early stages. On the contrary, advanced stages of cancer are painful, expensive and difficult or even not possible to cure. Therefore avoid taking chances with your health and see a doctor as advised.