Pimples on the Tongue

If you find pimple looking bumps over your tongue, these are likely to be transient lingual papillitis.

We don’t get pimples over the tongue. Tongue is basically a muscular organ, which serves to help us chew our food, taste it and in speech. The outermost coating of the tongue is not skin. It’s a mucous layer which doesn’t has sebum.

Sebum is a oily fluid secreted by the skin surface and is the main cause of pimple formation over the skin surface.

What Is Transient Lingual Papillitis?

Our tongue is rough from its surface. This is so because the outer layer of the tongue, which comes in touch with food, is composed of several small papillae.

A papilla is a small protuberance that is present in clusters over the tongue surface.

A cluster of such papillae constitutes a taste bud, which helps us assess the taste of food we eat.

These papillae are called fungiform papillae, chiefly due to their typical shape of a fungal growth.

Any irritation or inflammation of these papillae may appear as a small bump or pimple over the tongue. This condition is medically called papillitis.

What Causes Papillitis?

  • Very spicy or sour food stuff.
  • Food stuff that is highly acidic or basic in chemical nature.
  • Any food you are allergic to. Apart from food, it may be some other object you are allergic to. This may include a pen or a toy, as in case of children, which is frequently being sucked or chewed by the child.
  • Smoking is an irritant not only for the respiratory mucosa, but also for the mouth cavity.
  • Consumption of alcohol may be an irritant for many.
  • Food stuff of different texture, like very hard food stuff, or something that has sharp edges may also irritate the tongue surface.

Other Causes of Having Bumps Over the Tongue

Oral Thrush

This is caused due to overgrowth of candida, a fungus that normally stays in the mouth cavity.

In certain conditions, as in immune deficiency states, the fungus growth becomes excessive. This presents as creamy white lesions over the tongue. If the growth is much, the roof of the mouth or inner cheeks may also be involved.

When the white debris lying over the tongue surface is scraped, redness and small raised bumps may appear. These resemble pimples in their appearance.

Vitamin B Deficiency

A deficiency of this vitamin results in loss of cells from over the tongue surface. One may feel a burning sensation or rawness over the tongue.

Taste buds may break down and sense of taste is affected. Tongue shows a bald appearance with little pimple like feel.


This is a viral illness characterized by the eruption of small blister over the mouth, lips,  gums or else where.

The blisters appear to be fluid filled. They may or may not be painful.


Individuals who are chronically constipated may develop and furred tongue with a bad smell in their mouth cavity.

Bad breath or halitosis is often observed.


Fibroma is a benign lesion. It is caused to due chronic irritation caused at a point in the mouth cavity. This irritation may be due to braces, dentures, rubbing from a tooth or cheek bite.

It appears as a small bump, an over growth of connective tissue in the mouth cavity.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Pimples on the Tongue

  1. Nishii

    Hello Doctor,

    I have noticed bumps like pimples at the back of my tongue. the pimples are kinds of spread out on the surface at the back completely. It is a quite painful when I swallow water or food. These have appeared only the day I have drank about half glass of fresh grapefruit juice. Kindly advise if this is as a result of the juice. My friend was saying that this happened because my body lacks vitamin C – as soon i had this juice it happened. I am confused, because if i drink lemon water on an empty stomach I don’t get this reaction. Kind advise me doctor. I will be grateful.
    Thank you.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Likely to be because of the grapefruit.

      These bumps are a result of local irritation caused there. Nothing needs to be done. Just leave it as such. They’re likely to regress on their own.

      Avoid alcohol, spicy food or any sour food for some time.


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