Bumps on The Back of Throat: What White, Red, Yellow, or Black Bumps Mean

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Bumps on The Back of Throat: What do White, Red, Yellow, or Black Bumps Mean?
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Bumps on the back of your throat usually mean that you have an infection or something has irritated your throat or tonsils. Red spots or dots, white patches, blister-like bumps or swollen lumps at the back of the throat can cause pain and discomfort. The throat bumps could also be a sign of swollen lymph glands due to a viral infection.

If you get a sore throat, there is a good chance that you or your doctor will notice red patches on your tonsils. You may also experience painful swallowing, notice white streaks of pus at the back of your throat, or have swollen tonsils. Along with symptoms of an infection at the back of your throat, you could also have a fever, headaches, and muscle aches.

In some cases, red, yellow, or black bumps at the back of your throat can be an indication of something more serious. If left untreated, some throat infections can cause serious complications. Infections can go deeper into your respiratory tract or affect other organs. Sometimes, black, white, or red spots or sores on your throat that don’t go away need to be examined by a doctor.

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In this article, you will learn about the various reasons why you have white, red or yellow bumps on your throat. You will also find out what it means if you notice black-colored bumps on the back of your throat.

What Are Bumps on Back of Throat

Back of the throat bumps that cause a sore throat can come in various shapes and sizes. Many viral or bacterial throat infections cause painful red spots that cause irritation. However, you might see that the bumps look more like blisters with or without pus.

If you have a yeast infection, then you will notice clumps of white bumps that are surrounded by red patches of inflamed skin.

Whatever type of bumps or lumps you have at the back of your throat, many home remedies can help to soothe the discomfort and treat the symptoms.

Symptoms of Bumps on Back of Throat

Because most causes of lumps and bumps on the back of your throat or tonsils are caused by an infection, you may have other symptoms.

If you are bothered by back of the throat lesions, one of the most common symptoms is discomfort and pain when swallowing. For example, some people say that the back of their throat feels like sandpaper when they swallow. When you look at the back of your throat, you may also notice tiny white spots or tiny red spots or dots.

Other symptoms of white or red bumps on the back of the throat can include any of the following:

Causes of Bumps on Back of Throat

Let’s look in more detail at what can be causing inflammation, irritation, and bumps at the back of your throat. In many cases, you will find natural home remedies to quickly help get rid of the red, white, or yellow throat bumps.

Pharyngitis

Red bumps on the back of your throat that are sore and painful could be a symptom of pharyngitis. Depending on the type of throat infection, you may notice streaks of pus at the back of your throat.

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Pharyngitis is sometimes used as another name for a sore throat. Dr. KoKo Aung from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center says that pharyngitis is usually caused by a viral infection. This could be the rhinovirus, herpes simplex virus, flu virus, or common cold virus. These viral throat infections can result in red patches on your tonsils or uvula.1

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that other symptoms of a viral or bacterial sore throat can include any of the following:2

  • White patches of pus at the back of your throat
  • Pain when swallowing or talking
  • Swollen glands under your jaw or in your neck
  • Difficulty speaking

If pharyngitis is caused by a bacterial infection, it can cause a strep throat.

Strep throat

The onset of a sudden sore throat that causes tiny red spots or dots on the back of your throat could be an indicator of strep throat. A bacterial infection caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria is a common reason for bumps on your throat. Sometimes strep throat is called strep angina.

Strep throat is an infectious respiratory condition that can cause a lot of pain when swallowing. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, a strep throat usually causes small red bumps at the back of the mouth or cause a strep tongue. Strep throat can also look like yellow bumps or white patches if there is pus at the back of your mouth.3

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that a strep throat can also result in other uncomfortable symptoms like:4

  • Fever
  • A sore scratchy throat when swallowing
  • Streaks of pus on the tonsils
  • White spots on your uvula (the dangly bit at the back of your throat)
  • Bumps in the front of the neck due to swollen lymph nodes
  • Body aches

There are many effective home remedies for treating the symptoms of mild cases of strep throat. If your symptoms are more severe, you should visit your doctor who will treat strep throat with antibiotics. This will help prevent the strep bacterial infection causing further complications like rheumatic fever or kidney disease.3

Some natural remedies for treating the symptoms of strep throat include honey, onions and garlic, trying to boost your immune system with probiotic foods, and taking essential oils for strep throat. You usually know if strep throat is getting better when it is easier to swallow and the red bumps on your throat disappear.

What’s the difference between strep throat and tonsillitis?

The difference between strep throat and tonsillitis is that strep throat is a bacterial infection whereas tonsillitis just describes inflammation of the tonsils.

Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that sometimes a strep throat infection can also cause tonsillitis which will cause the tonsils to become enlarged, red and sore. Both strep throat and tonsillitis can result in patches of white pus-like lesions on your tonsils and back of your throat. Tonsillitis and strep throat result in a very painful sore throat.4

Tonsillitis

You usually know if you have tonsillitis if the tissue mass at either side at the back of your throat is very red and inflamed. Swollen red tonsils can be the result of a viral or bacterial infection.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, tonsillitis can cause white or yellow bumps on the back of the throat. You will notice that the tonsils are larger than usual and will look very red. Tonsillitis can also cause any of the following uncomfortable symptoms:5

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  • Pain when swallowing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck that are tender to touch
  • A headache and possibly signs of infection like fever and general fatigue.

Usually, treating the symptoms of tonsillitis naturally involve remedies that soothe the back of your throat. For example, sucking on an ice popsicle can provide quick relief from a sore throat. Or, you can consume more garlic as a natural antimicrobial remedy to kill of infection-causing germs.

A common way to treat various throat infections that cause red sores at the back of the throat is to gargle with salt water. At the end of this article, you can find a recipe for a salt-water throat rinse to clear oral infections.

Oral candidiasis (oral thrush)

Oral candidiasis can cause patches of white bumps on your tongue or at the back of your throat. Signs of a candida yeast infection or oral thrush happen when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in your body.

Candida infections of the mouth can leave your mouth feeling raw and sore. Dr. John P. Cunha on MedicineNet says that the classic symptoms of oral thrush are white patches at the back of your mouth, on your tongue, or inside your cheeks. You may notice redness around the white bumps in your mouth and have a general nasty feeling in your mouth.6

Oral thrush can also cause symptoms like:

  • Sore teeth
  • Cracks at the corner of your lips (angular cheilitis)
  • Bad taste in your mouth and halitosis (bad breath)
  • A sore throat
  • Feeling like there is something caught in the back of your throat

There are many ways to treat oral candida infections naturally. For example, coconut oil is great for treating candida infections. All you need to do is use the oil pulling method and swish 2 tablespoons of coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes to get rid of the yeast infection. You can also add 2 drops of cinnamon essential oil for its antifungal properties.

Apple cider vinegar is also a natural antifungal treatment that you can use for treating oral candidiasis.

Acid reflux

Heartburn or acid reflux could be a reason for having blisters on the back of your throat or a feeling of a lump in your throat.

One of the most common symptoms of heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest. However, doctors from the Cleveland Clinic report that persistent acid reflux can cause a lot of irritation at the back of your throat. This can result in inflammation and a sore red throat.7

Baking soda and water is an effective natural antacid that can help to quickly address the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.

Tonsil stones (tonsilloliths)

If you have ever seen tonsil stone pictures, you will see that they are like white bumps on the back of the throat. Tonsil stones or tonsilloliths form when mucus or dead cells collect in tiny cavities in the tonsil tissue. They calcify and harden and then turn into white hard bumps on your tonsils.

Doctors from WebMD say that it’s not always easy to detect these white bumps on your throat. However, sometimes, the solid white material can seem quite large and very noticeable. Sometimes, the white tonsil lumps can become infected and painful. They may even cause ear pain if they press on a nerve in your throat.8

Tonsil stones usually don’t go away on their own but there are home treatments to get rid of them. Doctors say that you can get rid of tonsil stones using a cotton swab to try and dislodge them. If they become very large, doctors may remove them surgically.

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Mononucleosis (mono)

You may have mono if your throat is very red and you have white spots on your tonsils. Mononucleosis (or, mono for short and is sometimes called glandular fever) is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is common among adolescents.

Researchers from the University of Michigan say that the symptoms of mono can range from mild to very severe. Almost all people with mono feel fatigued and have a severe sore throat that lasts about a week. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may also have white or yellowish spots on either side of the back of your throat.9

Other symptoms of mono generally include some of the following:

  • A high fever during the first week of falling ill
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Gargling with a warm saline solution can help to relieve some of the symptoms of mono like white pus spots on your tonsils and a sore throat.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection of the nose and mouth that can turn your throat red and raw, and cause your neck glands to swell.

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that scarlet fever generally affects children up to the age of 15 years old. It is highly contagious and can spread like other respiratory infections. The symptoms of scarlet fever can include:10

  • A red rash on the throat that feels like sandpaper
  • A whitish coating on the tongue or the tongue could look red and bumpy
  • A high fever
  • A red rash on the groin and underarms
  • General feeling of being unwell

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Viral infections caused by the coxsackie virus or enterovirus can cause blisters on the inside of the mouth. This type of viral infections that causes bumps on the throat is called hand-foot-mouth disease and often affects children.

According to Dr. Roy Benaroch on WebMD, hand-foot-mouth disease is very contagious. This can result in painful rashes on the body and cause blister-like bumps inside the mouth. Usually, the symptoms will go away after a week or so. During this time, it’s important to get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.11

The best way to help your child avoid catching hand-foot-mouth disease is to teach them to wash their hands thoroughly and avoid infected people.

Cold sores

Another reason for whitish or yellowish bumps to appear on the back of your throat is having a cold sore infection.

Cold sores or fever blisters usually cause an unsightly bump on your lip. However, doctors from Bupa report that the cold sore virus (herpes simplex virus 1 or HSV-1) can cause blisters inside your mouth and even on your nose. The viral infection can also make you feel generally unwell and cause a sore throat and enlarged tonsils.12

One way to get rid of cold sores naturally is to apply some Manuka honey. If cold sores are causing bumps at the back of your mouth, you can take a spoon of honey and let it gently coat the back of your mouth to get rid of the throat bumps.

Canker sores

White spots with a red border on either side of the back of your throat could be a symptom of canker sores. These look like small white ulcers, can be very painful and react to hot or spicy food.

Canker sores are small white ulcers that usually appear if a person is under stress, has hormonal fluctuations, or lacks certain nutrients. Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on MedicineNet says that canker sores look like white ulcers on the tonsils, lips, or gums. Canker sores are not caused by a viral or bacterial infection.13

Try making a little baking soda paste with some water to put on the canker sore to get rid of the white ulcer on the back of your throat quicker.

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Leukoplakia

Large white bumps on the back of your throat or tongue could be a symptom of leukoplakia.

Dr. Michael Freidman on WebMD says that irritants are generally to blame for these hardened white patches in your mouth. They can develop on the floor of the mouth, tongue, back of the mouth, or inside the cheek. The white bump may have a hard rough texture and be sensitive to heat or spicy foods.14

Irritation or injury to the delicate tissue in your mouth could result in an oral blood blister that can turn into a black bump in your mouth.

Very often, removing the source of irritation can help to reduce the size of the white or dark red mouth bump. Doctors may also take a biopsy to rule out the possibility that the lesion is a sign of oral cancer.

Oral cancer

On rare occasions white or red bumps on the back of your throat that don’t go away could be a sign of oral cancer.

Doctors from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research report that oral cancer can manifest itself as white or red sores on your throat or mouth. This often looks like a thick patch of tissue and may bleed easily. Other symptoms could be numbness in the mouth, pain in one ear, a chronic sore throat, or a persistent cough.15

White Bumps on Back of Throat

White bumps on the back of the throat are usually the result of an infection that causes pus to form around the bumps. Here are the most common causes of white bumps on your tonsils and throat:

Strep throat. White or yellow spots on the back of your throat that is red and sore.

Oral thrush. Whitish spots on your throat and back of your tongue that can be scraped off. Your throat may appear red and have a burning sensation.

Tonsil stones. Tiny white bumps that appear on one or both sides on the back of your throat. They may be painful, but more often than not they don’t cause any discomfort.

Canker sores. Small white ulcers that can appear anywhere on the inside of your mouth, including your tonsils, uvula, and back of your throat.

Tonsillitis. Inflamed tonsils that have white or yellow bumps on them caused by pus from the viral or bacterial infection.

Red Bumps on Back of Throat

Irritation or infections can also cause red bumps, spots, or dots on the back of your throat. Here are the most common causes.

Pharyngitis. This throat infection causes swollen tonsils with red patches on the back of your throat. Depending on the severity of infection, you may also have streaks of pus on your tonsils.

Scarlet fever. A rash of tiny red bumps on your throat at the back of your mouth. Your tongue may also be red, bumpy, and sore.

Hand-foot-mouth disease. Red blister-like bumps on the back of your throat and tongue along with other symptoms of an infection.

Canker sores. Although canker sores have a sensitive white center, these ulcers are usually characterized by a swollen red raised border.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Bumps on Back of Throat

Getting a sore throat with white or red bumps on it can be very painful. Therefore, the best way is to try and avoid catching any viral or bacterial infections that can affect your throat.

However, if you do get bumps on the back of your throat that are painful, there are many home remedies to get rid of them.

Prevention of bumps on back of the throat

Most causes of painful bumps on the back of your throat or tonsils involve infections. So, knowing how to avoid respiratory infections can be the best way to prevent getting bumps on your throat.

According to doctors, the best way to avoid throat infections include:16

  • Washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
  • Avoid being in close contact with persons showing signs of a respiratory infection.
  • Don’t share eating utensils or cups.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it to prevent spreading germs to others.

How to get rid of bumps on back of throat

The best kind of treatment for easing the symptoms of a sore throat infection that cause red or white bumps on your throat is to gargle with salt water.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that regardless of the cause of your painful throat infection, gargling with saline solution can help to relieve your symptoms.

This is how to get rid of bumps from the back of your throat fast:

  • Put 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a small glass of warm water.
  • Mix well to dissolve the salt.
  • Gargle the saltwater solution for a minute or so and spit out.
  • Repeat a few times during the day to help kill off germs in your throat that are causing pain and irritation.

When to See a Doctor

Usually, throat infections clear up between 7 and 10 days and home remedies can really help to ease your symptoms. However, in some cases, you need to see a doctor for a sore throat. This is especially true if you have strep throat because the bacterial infection can cause serious complications.

According to doctors from the Cleveland Clinic, you should see a doctor for bumps on the back of your throat in the following circumstances:

  • You suddenly get a sore throat that looks very red.
  • You have streaks of white or yellow pus on your tonsils.
  • You have a red rash on the back of your throat that feels like sandpaper.
  • Your sore throat with bumps on it lasts longer than a week.

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. Medscape. Viral pharyngitis.
  2. MayoClinic. Sore
  3. MayoClinic. Strep throat.
  4. WebMD. Is your sore throat a cold, strep throat, or tonsillitis?
  5. MayoClinic. Tonsillitis.
  6. MedicineNet. Thrush (oral candidiasis).
  7. ClevelandClinic. GERD or acid reflux or heartburn.
  8. WebMD. Tonsil stones, tonsils.
  9. UMICH. Infectious mononucleosis.
  10. CDC. Scarlet fever.
  11. WebMD. Hand-foot-mouth disease.
  12. Bupa. Cold sores.
  13. MedicinetNet. Are canker sores contagious?
  14. WebMD. Dental health and leukoplakia.
  15. NIDCR. Oral cancer.
  16. HealthDirect. Strep throat prevention.
  17. ClevelandClinic. How to tell if your sore throat needs a doctor’s visit.
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