Bumps on Back of Tongue

Bumps on Back of Tongue – Should you Panic?

Sometimes, a common symptom, or a common condition might be a cause of concern. That is because sometimes a condition like bumps on back of tongue might be a sign for something else. For example, bumps can sometimes be a symptom of cancer and other severe conditions.

As a result, people panic, no matter whether the cause for the bumps is cancer or something else. Yes, these symptoms can raise concern. There are a number of reasons why bumps on back of tongue appear. Some of them are severe, and some are not. Bear in mind, the tongue naturally has bumps known as papillae, and those on the back are larger than those on the front.


However, if you notice bumps on the back, and that they are getting bigger, you need further investigation of the problem. With that in mind, let’s look at the causes of bumps on back of tongue.

Causes of bumps on back of tongue

Natural bumps

As mentioned before, your tongue has natural bumps, both on the front and on the back. Those on the back are larger, and called papillae. These contain the taste buds on the tongue in a V form, leading to the back of the throat. They also contain lingual tonsils or a round mass that might look like a bump to you.

You need to understand that these bumps are always at the back of the tongue. However, different conditions may change their appearance. For example, sinus infection can enlarge the papillae. And some people just have larger taste buds. Eating spicy food can inflame the taste buds, making them look larger than usual.



Food allergies can easily cause bumps to appear on your tongue. Bumps caused by allergies (food allergies in particular), appear larger toward the back of the tongue. They appear within few minutes of coming into contact with the food that caused the irritation. Other substances can cause bumps as well. You will also notice swelling or welts on the face.

Allergic reactions cause mild to severe symptoms. It is critical that you monitor the symptoms and the condition closely. In some cases, you might need medical intervention. The best way to treat bumps caused by allergies is with antihistamines. However, when the swelling is severe, you need medical attention that will ensure you can breathe properly.


Biting, burning your tongue, and similar traumas will cause bumps to appear on your tongue. In most cases, these bumps appear on the front, not on the back. However, certain traumatic situations can cause bumps on the back as well. For example, brushing too hard with the toothbrush can cause irritation to the tongue and bumps on the back of it.

For traumatic conditions, the best remedy is to apply saltwater or antiseptic mouth rinse. It will help and speed up the healing process. Even if you leave the bumps on their own, they will heal after some time. If the bumps are stemming from another infection, your physician might prescribe medication that will clear them up.

Canker Sores

These can appear on any part of the mouth. That includes the tongue as well. Canker sores look like small ulcer that has white or yellow center, and a red outline. They can be painful, and swell over time as well.

The simplest way to treat them is with a saltwater rinse. But if you are lazy to do that, they heal on their own after a while.


One of the most irritating conditions that can cause bumps on back of tongue is warts. They actually appear in different areas of the oral cavity, but in some cases, they also appear on the back of the tongue. They are a common infection commonly caused by placing an infected finger in the mouth. Sometimes, they can be genital warts that have been contracted by performing oral sex on someone with the infection.

They appear in clusters or as a singular growth. The bumps can have wrinkled, smooth or spiky appearance. You will notice them easily as warts have slight discoloration compared to nearby tissues. They take on red, pink, or white color. They should not be painful.

Oral Thrush

This is the most common cause of bumps on back of tongue. We will talk about oral thrush in length later on. For now, you need to know it is a fungal infection that causes white or yellow coating. The tongue is not the only area where oral thrush can appear. You also might notice it on your gums, tonsils, and palate.

Thrush typically appears on the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, or the gums. The lesions might be painful and they tend to bleed. When you have oral thrush, your ability to taste will be affected. The bumps multiply and grow very quickly.

Scarlet fever

Bumps caused by scarlet fever appear anywhere on the mouth. When they appear on the tongue, they will cause it to turn bright red.

The bumps actually start as a rash on the chest or abdomen, and then spread across the entire body. You will also develop high fever and sore throat.


The condition is rare, but it can sometimes happen. Leukoplakia causes thick and white lesions to appear in the mouth. They can manifest as raised bumps on the gums, on the cheeks, or on the back of the tongue. It is worth noting that these bumps are benign, and can be precancerous. That means, you should check with your physician.

In some cases, the bumps will appear as red lesions. This condition is called erythroplakia. Another common and similar condition is wrinkled patches on the side of the tongue that is known as hairy leukoplakia.

It takes a long period of time for these patches to form, and then become thick and hard. They are not painful, but they are sensitive to spicy food. If you notice them in the early stages, you should consult your doctor how to get rid of them.

Kawasaki disease

This autoimmune disease usually affects children. Kawasaki causes red bumps that are large, and they appear on the back of the tongue exclusively. Other symptoms going along include cracked lips, swollen lymph nodes, redness in the palms, redness in the soles of the feed, fever, bloodshot eyes, and joint pain.

At the moment, not much is known about this disease. What is known is that the tongue will turn very dark and can be fatal if not treated.


At the beginning, we mentioned that many people panic the moment they notice bumps on back of tongue. That is because it is one of the early symptoms of oral cancer. Oral bumps caused by cancer are reddish or white in color.

They easily bleed, and you will notice symptoms like ear pain, recurrent sore throat, and numbness in the area as well. Sometimes, bad breath goes along with cancerous bumps on back of tongue as well. Because of the pain, patients state they have difficulty chewing food and swallowing.

Oral Thrush the most common cause for bumps

As mentioned previously, oral thrush is the most common cause of bumps on back of tongue. It is an infection of the mouth caused by the candida fungus, also known as yeast.

Commonly, candida and yeast infections appear either in the mouth, or in the genital section. Candida and yeast infections can cause diaper rash in infants as well. Thrush can affect anyone, but babies and toddlers are considered a risk group. Older adults, as well as people with weakened immune system are also at risk.

Candida fungus are actually present in the mouth. Same as with vaginal yeast infection. These bacteria live in our mouth, digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people. They are kept in check by good bacteria and other microorganisms in the body. However, illnesses, medications, and stress can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria, causing candida to grow out of control and cause oral thrush. Medications like antibiotics, birth control pills, and corticosteroids can all cause oral thrush. Illnesses that cause oral thrush include cancer, HIV infection, uncontrolled diabetes, dry mouth, and hormonal changes during pregnancy. People who smoke are at increased risk.

Your dentist will easily diagnose thrush by examining your mouth. When you are at the dentist, ask your dentist to check for distinctive white lesions in your mouth, tongue, or cheeks.

Home Remedies for bumps on back of tongue

As we mentioned few times, bumps on back of tongue will go away on their own in a few days. However, if you like to speed up the healing process, you can always turn to medications. Over the counter medications for bumps are always an option. But we always advocate for natural remedies. With that in mind, here are some things you can try as home remedies for bumps on back of tongue.

Salt water gargle is the simplest, easiest, and most commonly used treatment for bumps on back of tongue. Salt water has antibacterial properties, but it will also rinse fluid collected during infection. The best part is that salt water does not disturb the natural mucous and helps the healing process. All you have to do is dissolve half a spoon of salt in a half of glass of warm water. Gargle for 30 seconds, and then spit.

Another way to treat bumps on back of tongue is oil pulling. For this treatment, you need a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil. Put it in your mouth, and swirl for 10 to 15 minutes. The oil will pull toxins to your mouth. Spit it out in the trash, and then gargle with lemon water. Brush your teeth afterwards to ensure there are no toxins left in your mouth.

You can also make a gargle with bentonite clay on a daily basis. Gargle with bentonite clay for 30 seconds, and then swallow it. The clay will absorb the oral thrush, leaving you with no bumps on the back of your tongue.

Mint leaves are another way you can use to treat oral thrush and similar conditions causing bumps on back of tongue. Mint leaves have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, both of which relieve pain and protect your mouth against infections.

Some people also try cold compress. For this remedy, you need to suck ice chips or ice cubes. Cold compress will reduce the inflammation, pain, and swelling in your mouth. Of course, if you cannot handle the cold, we suggest trying some other remedy for bumps on back of tongue.

Last, but not least, you can make a paste with hydrogen peroxide and baking powder. Apply the mixture on your tongue, and leave it stay for a minute. Rinse with water. The solution will reduce the swelling and remove bacteria causing infections in your mouth. The result is no bumps after few treatments.

Tips for prevention

Sometimes, the best way to treat bumps on back of tongue is to prevent them. Here are some lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to ensure your mouth is bumps-free.

  • Follow good oral hygiene practices. That means brushing your teeth with organic toothpaste twice a day, and flossing once per day
  • Use antibacterial organic mouthwash once per day to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Do not overdo it, as it may hamper the normal balance of microorganisms in your mouth
  • Limit amount of sugary foods you consume. Those include bread, beer, wine, and refined white sugar
  • Quit smoking, or at least limit yourself to few cigarettes per day. Brush your teeth or use mouthwash after smoking to clean bacteria and toxins
  • Boost your immune system so that it can fight off infections causing bumps on back of tongue
  • Use essential oils that have anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • Make leafy greens a regular part of your daily diet. In addition, drink green juice, green smoothies, and consume green vegetables on a daily basis
  • Embrace fermented foods, as they are rich in probiotics. Fermented foods provide good bacteria that will balance bacteria levels in your mouth
  • Avoid triggering foods like acidic foods, spicy foods, citrus fruits, sodas, coffee, hot foods, and high sugary food

When to seek doctor

In most cases, bumps on back of tongue are nothing serious and to be concerned about. There is no reason for panic.

However, there are also certain situations when you need medical treatment. For example, if the bumps last for more than two weeks, and they get bigger over time, it is time to visit the doctor. Another example is when the bumps bleed or they are painful and interfere with your normal daily activities.

Most bumps on the back of your tongue are oral irritations. That doesn’t mean they are pleasant to deal with. You can make them tolerable and get rid of them by buying over the counter medicine and gel to numb the bumps. In the same time, you need to avoid irritating substances like spicy food, hot food, salty food, or very sugary foods.

Difficulty swallowing

As mentioned previously, some patients have noted that the bumps on the back of the tongue make it difficult to swallow. Odd and raised bumps make it uncomfortable for you to chew. These bumps are usually caused by a more serious condition like oral thrush, cancer, or HIV. In these cases, the best advice is to forget home remedies for bumps and go seek medical treatment.


Sometimes, however, even the simplest bump can be painful and make it hard to chew and swallow. That is because you have irritated or inflamed the bump by consuming irritating substances.



Deacon Kay
Deacon is a 28-year-old struggling artist who enjoys planking, upcycling and binge-watching boxed sets.