Painful Sores, Bumps or Blisters Under Tongue: Causes and Treatments

Painful Sores, Bumps or Blisters Under Tongue: Causes and Treatments
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Painful sores or blisters under your tongue can be an irritating source of discomfort. Our tongues are necessary for speaking, tasting food, and swallowing. Any kind of blister or sore bump under your tongue, on the inside of your cheek, or on your gums can cause your tongue or mouth to be extra sensitive to heat, flavors, and even make talking difficult.

The most common reasons for pain under the tongue are an injury from biting your tongue, irritation caused by some foods, or fever blisters. However, yeast infections, bacterial infections, or white painful ulcers can make the area under your tongue very sore.

In many cases, sores, blisters, and sore bumps below your tongue go away on their own. However, many home remedies can help to speed up the healing process and relieve pain from under your tongue. For example, natural ingredients like witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and a salt water rinse help to kill off infection-causing germs and make mouth sores heal faster. Because of their antibacterial properties, you can also use honey or coconut oil to treat some sore conditions that affect the tongue.

In this article, you will find out the reasons why painful sores can appear under your tongue. You will also learn about the best ways to get rid of discomfort and painful sensations from the floor of your mouth.

Symptoms and Causes of Pain Under Tongue

If you have any kind of pain under your tongue, looking at the symptoms can help to identify the cause of the soreness. For example, the pain below your tongue may be accompanied by redness and inflammation that could indicate that irritation, a biting injury, or allergic reaction is to blame.

If canker sores or cold sores cause pain under your tongue, then you will probably notice blisters or bumps that may also weep fluid. The sores may be very tender to touch and may cause more pain in your mouth if you consume spicy food. They may even bleed if you injure them while brushing your teeth.

Certain infections may cause white patches on the top of your tongue or under your tongue. As well as the painful symptoms beneath your tongue you may have difficulty when speaking, chewing food, or swallowing.

In fact, the condition of your tongue can be an indicator of your health in general and you should always pay attention to how your tongue looks and feels.

Causes of Bumps, Blister, and Sores Under Tongue

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why bumps, blisters, and sores can appear under your tongue and cause pain.

Injury

One common reason for a painful sore under your tongue is an injury to the underside of your tongue or floor of your mouth. If you look under your tongue, you will probably see a red patch and possibly a sore blister where the injury happened.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that a sore or painful tongue is usually caused by accidentally biting or burning your tongue. Although hot foods often burn the roof of your mouth, any kind of food or drink that is too hot can cause blistering and pain in your mouth and below your tongue. Biting your tongue will cause pain and possibly even a blood blister under your tongue.

Irritation

Poor fitting dentures, jagged teeth, or certain foods can irritate your oral cavity and cause pain below your tongue.

According to Dr. David Murchison from the University of Texas, irritation under the tongue or other areas of the mouth can cause blisters and form into ulcers. Some foods that commonly cause mouth sores under your tongue are cinnamon flavoring, some toothpastes, or mouthwashes. Dr. Murchison recommends avoiding the irritant and using topical treatments to treat the pain and prevent more irritation in your mouth.2

Another source of irritation in your mouth that can cause painful lesions under your tongue is smoking. There are many reasons to give up smoking and looking after your oral health and avoiding mouth sores are just two of them. Smoking also causes a change in your mouth’s acidity levels which can put you at greater risk of viral, fungal, or bacterial infections affecting the tongue.2

Doctor of Dental Surgery, Dr. Donna Bautista on MedicineNet says that irritation from chewing can also cause problems with the edges of your tongue.3

Allergic reaction

Another common reason for a painful sensation under your tongue is if you have an allergic reaction to certain foods or substances.

Dr. David Murchison says that foods that cause allergic reactions in some people are a reason for oral sores to show up under the tongue, on the inside of cheeks, and lips. Usually, avoiding foods that trigger mouth sores is the best way to prevent painful sores under your tongue.2

Allergic reactions to nuts, seafood, or other allergens can cause serious problems in the mouth if your tongue begins to swell. Dr. Melinda Ratini on WebMD says that along with tongue swelling, you may have tingling and itching in your mouth, throat, and lips. If you feel tightness in your throat and have difficulty breathing, you should contact a doctor as soon as possible.4

If you suffer from allergies to pollen or other airborne substances, please read about natural antihistamines that can help relieve your allergy symptoms.

Cold sores (fever blisters)

Fever blisters or cold sores can cause painful white bumps to appear under your tongue, on your lips, and the inside of your cheeks. Cold sores, or oral herpes, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and can affect any part of your mouth. The virus is highly contagious and can flare up if you have a weakened immune system.

Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the first sign of a cold sore appearing is a tingling sensation on your lips, tongue, or cheek. After a day or two, a cluster of blisters appears and looks like white bumps on a red base. These sores may also spread to the throat and roof of your mouth. The cold sores may even spread to your nose.5

There are many helpful remedies for getting rid of fever blisters quickly and reducing the pain that cold sores cause. Some of these are mentioned at the end of this article.

Canker sores

Another type of sore that can affect the area under your tongue and be a source of pain is a canker sore. Canker sores look like small white ulcers in the mouth and can be very painful. Doctors aren’t certain what causes canker sores but they could be from irritation, injury, or food sensitivities. Stress may also be a factor in these small painful ulcers appearing under the tongue.

Dr. John Cunha on MedicineNet explains that canker sores can be very painful and appear as bumps on the tongue and on the inside linings of the mouth. Unlike cold sores, canker sores aren’t contagious and usually heal on their own. However, many natural remedies can help to relieve pain and quicken the healing process.6

Glossitis

Red patches on your tongue that may or may not be painful could be caused by a condition called glossitis (inflammation of the tongue). This oral condition is also sometimes called a geographic tongue due to the map-like appearance on the sides and surface of your tongue.

According to Dr. Alfred Wyatt, who is Assistant Professor of the Georgia School of Dentistry, many people who have glossitis also experience pain in different areas of their tongue. You may also have increased sensitivity to spicy or acidic foods.7

Bacterial infection

Sometimes the painful sensation under your tongue could be the result of a bacterial infection. This will often be accompanied by redness, swelling, and possibly pus from the infected sore. If your tongue becomes very swollen and starts pressing on your teeth, you will probably have a wavy scalloped tongue.

A common cause of painful bacterial infections that affect the tongue’s surface and underneath the tongue is a tongue piercing. The Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology reports that piercing the tongue can cause bleeding, oral trauma, and bacterial infections. This results in pain and swelling around the pierced area of the tongue.8

Because bacterial infections affecting the tongue and oral cavity can become very serious, it’s important to quickly treat the first signs of infection. Many doctors recommend using a saline solution to kill off any infection-causing germs.

Yeast infection

An overgrowth of yeast in your mouth could cause oral thrush that results in sore white lesions on your tongue, the floor of your mouth, and inner cheeks. The white sore patches of creamy substance around your tongue are caused by the Candida strain of yeast. A weakened immune system or being on a course of antibiotics is usually to blame for oral thrush.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, oral thrush can affect your tongue in many ways. The discolored bumps can affect your taste and may even cause difficulty eating or swallowing. Usually, the area around the white tongue lesions is red and painful.9

You also have a greater risk of developing oral thrush if you have a vaginal yeast infection. For ways to treat vaginal candidiasis naturally, please read my article the best natural home remedies for a yeast infection. There you can find out how to use yogurt for candidiasis and help to get rid of your yeast infection symptoms.

Burning mouth syndrome

As its name suggests, burning mouth syndrome can cause a painful burning feeling anywhere in the mouth, including under the tongue. Burning mouth syndrome isn’t caused by hot food or drink burning your tongue, rather it is related to problems with the sensory nerves.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that along with pain in your mouth and tongue, you may also have a distorted sense of taste and a dry mouth. For some people, the painful mouth comes and goes and for other people, the condition can last all day.10

Oral lichen planus

Sore patches under your tongue could be due to oral lichen planus which is an inflammatory condition that affects mucous membranes inside your mouth. It not known what causes oral lichen planus but it is thought that an immune disorder associated with inflammation could be to blame.

Doctor of Dental Surgery, Dr. Michael Friedman says that the mucus membranes of the mouth are commonly affected. This can cause patches of white or red swollen tissue under the tongue that become open sores. If the sores are irritated, they may peel and bleed and become even more painful. Sometime thickened patches of skin can develop on the tongue.11

Home Remedies to Relieve Pain Under Tongue

The following home remedies can help relieve pain under your tongue. In some cases, the home remedies provide topical relief from painful conditions that affect the mouth. Other remedies that you can use at home, address the underlying cause of your painful tongue.

Ice

One of the quickest ways to relieve pain from under your tongue is to use ice or sip a cold drink. Ice helps to calm the damaged nerve endings and reduce painful symptoms caused by a burn or irritation.

The British Burn Associations recommends cooling a burn by running cold tap water for about 20 minutes to prevent tissues damage and pain. You could also suck on an ice cube to help get quick pain relief under your tongue.11

Salt water rinse

Rinsing your mouth with a saline solution can help to kill off infections and promote healing if an infection or injury causes pain below your tongue.

According to the journal PLoS One, salt water mouth rinses promote healing of mouth sores and ulcers. Studies have also shown that saline oral rinses help to repair damaged tissue and make oral wounds heal quicker and get rid of gum infections naturally.12

How to use:

It is very easy to make your own salt water mouth rinse at home to treat oral wounds under your tongue that cause pain. This is what you should do:

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup of warm water and mix well.
  2. Swish the solution around your mouth for a minute, paying particular attention to get it under your tongue.
  3. Repeat several times a day until the wound or sore under your tongue has healed and you no longer have any pain.

Baking soda

Baking soda can help relieve soreness under your tongue if canker sores, fever blisters, or oral lichen planus cause pain. Baking soda has natural antibacterial properties that help to reduce painful symptoms of infected sores and ulcers. Baking soda is also a very cheap way to get pain relief from sore in your mouth and under your tongue.

Studies into the healing properties of baking soda on oral ulcers have found that it is an effective remedy for treating oral conditions. For example, the journal Laryngoscope reported that baking soda remedies help to heal ulcers in the mouth and reduce the buildup of dental plaque.14

How to use:

You can easily make your own baking soda remedy at home to treat ulcers under the tongue by following these steps:

  1. Mix some water with one tablespoon baking soda into a smooth paste.
  2. Use a cotton swab to apply the baking soda paste to your canker sores, mouth ulcers, or fever blisters under your tongue.
  3. Leave for a few minutes and rinse off.
  4. Apply at least 3 times a day to promote ulcer healing and get rid of pain from under your tongue.

Witch hazel

The astringent and antiseptic properties of witch hazel make it a great home remedy for treating sores, bumps, and ulcers under your tongue. Witch hazel helps to relieve pain by tightening the tissue in the mouth and reduce swelling.

According to the University of Michigan, scientific research into witch hazel has shown that it helps to get rid of cold sores quickly and prevents the infection from spreading.15 Also, doctors from WebMD say that witch hazel is used to reduce pain, discomfort, and swelling from mucous membrane inflammation.16

How to use:

It couldn’t be simpler to use the healing activity of witch hazel to treat oral ulcers and painful sores under your tongue. This is what you should do to make a natural witch hazel mouthwash:

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon witch hazel in a small glass of warm water.
  2. Add 2 drops of clove oil to boost its antibacterial properties.
  3. Swish the home remedy around your mouth for a minute to promote healing of blisters or bumps under the tongue.
  4. Use 2 times a day until all signs of the irritating sores under your tongue have disappeared.

Coconut oil

Use a mixture of virgin coconut oil and cinnamon oil to get rid of a yeast infection that is causing pain in your mouth. Coconut oil contains soothing properties that also have an antifungal effect in the oral cavity.

A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food reported that coconut oil has an anti-candida effect and can kill off fungal infections. In fact, coconut oil for treating yeast infections was just as effective as popular antifungal pharmaceutical drugs.17 Also, a study from 2016 noted that cinnamon oil has properties that kill off fungal infections.18

How to use:

To make a coconut oil home remedy to relieve pain under your tongue caused by a fungal infection, this is what you should do:

  1. Add 1-2 drops cinnamon oil to one tablespoon virgin coconut oil.
  2. Swish the coconut oil remedy around your mouth for a few minutes to kill off the yeast infection on your tongue.
  3. After that spit out the liquid.
  4. Brush your teeth as normal to remove what’s left of the coconut oil mixture.

Apple cider vinegar

The natural antiseptic properties of apple cider vinegar can help to get rid of pain under your tongue caused by sores and ulcers. Apple cider vinegar can also help to kill yeast infections that can be a cause of pain and discomfort in the oral cavity.

The Journal of Prosthodontics reported that a 4% solution of apple cider vinegar was enough to kill off yeast strains that cause infection.19

How to use:

Make your own apple cider remedy to disinfect your mouth and destroy yeast infections that can cause pain. This is what you should do to get rid of the oral sores:

  1. Mix 2 teaspoons raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water and mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Rinse your mouth with the antimicrobial solution for up to one minute and spit out.
  3. Repeat 3 times a day for best results and to help get rid of your painful symptoms of a mouth infection and sores under the tongue.

Honey

Honey is a natural wound healer that can help to treat conditions that result in pain under your tongue. Some of the applications of using honey in your mouth is using it to treat canker sores, oral lichen planus, cold sores, and wounds caused by burning.

For example, research into the medicinal properties of honey to treat cold sores found that raw honey is just as effective as acyclovir – a pharmaceutical ingredient used in many cold sore treatments.20 Also, studies have shown that applying Manuka honey directly to wounds helps to speed up healing time and makes the skin heal better. In fact, Manuka honey also prevents bacteria from spreading and making the wound worse.21

How to Use:

The best kind of honey to use for treating painful cold sores and ulcers underneath your tongue is Manuka honey. However, any raw, organic honey can be used. This is what you should do:

  1. Use a clean cotton swab and dab some natural honey on your sore, ulcers, or bumps under the tongue to stop them hurting and promote healing.
  2. Apply frequently throughout the day for best results.
  3. Use daily until all signs of your mouth sores and tongue ulcers have gone completely.

Manuka honey also has antiviral properties and therefore can be used to naturally treat viral infections like shingles.

When to See a Doctor

Most causes of painful sores, bumps, and blisters under the tongue are caused by harmless conditions that can be effectively treated with home remedies. However, sometimes, the blisters, ulcers, or sores can become infected and require medical treatment.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that you should see a doctor for mouth sores if you experience any of the following conditions:22

  • The sores or ulcers are unusually large and cause a lot of discomfort
  • You get recurring, persistent sores in your mouth and under your tongue
  • Home remedies don’t provide relief from the pain beneath your tongue
  • Any condition in your mouth (including swelling of the tongue) makes it difficult to eat, swallow, or breathe
  • You have signs of a fever

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. NHS. Sore or painful tongue.
  2. MerckManuals. Mouth sores and inflammation.
  3. MedicineNet. Tongue problems.
  4. WebMD. Foods that may trigger pollen allergies.
  5. WebMD. Oral herpes.
  6. MedicineNet. Canker sores.
  7. WebMD. Geographic tongue.
  8. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2010 Spring; 21(1): e70–e74.
  9. MayoClinic. Oral thrush.
  10. MayoClinic. Burning mouth syndrome.
  11. WebMD. Oral lichen planus.
  12. BritishBurnAssociation. First aid position statement.
  13. PLosOne. Rinsing with saline promotes human gingival fibroblast would healing.
  14. 1980 May;90(5 Pt 1):758-68.
  15. UOFMHealth. Witch hazel.
  16. WebMD. Witch hazel.
  17. J Med Food.2007 Jun;10(2):384-7.
  18. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 Aug; 10(8): DC09–DC11.
  19. J Prosthodont.2015 Jun;24(4):296-302.
  20. Med Sci Monit.2004 Aug;10(8):MT94-8.
  21. WoundResearch. Honey: A biologic wound dressing.
  22. MayoClinic. Canker sore.
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