Red Bumps or Spots on Back of Throat: What it Means and How to Get rid of It

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Red Bumps or Spots on Back of Throat:
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Red bumps on the back of your throat usually mean that you have an inflammation, irritation, or an infection in your upper respiratory tract. Because the back of the throat is already red, it can be difficult to notice red spots on your throat. The red bumps can appear as small red dots in the throat or they can look like sore red ulcers. Usually, treating red spots on your tonsils or throat involves soothing the irritation or gargling with salt water to kill off infection-causing germs.

Very often, red bumps on your throat and tonsils are accompanied by other symptoms. For example, a sore throat caused by a viral infection can cause red bumps as well as coughing, phlegm, or sinusitis. You may also notice white bumps on the back of your throat or have swollen glands in your neck.

Usually, red spots on the back of your throat go away using home remedies to treat the discomfort. In some cases, you may need to see your doctor because infections causing red throat bumps can spread deeper into your respiratory tract.

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What Are Red Bumps on Back of Throat?

Red bumps on the back of your throat can be small ulcers, raised bumps, or tiny red dots. Sometimes, the red bumps on the throat can look like blisters that have a white center or have pus in them.

Depending on the type of throat infection, the red throat dots may resemble a rash on the back of your tongue or tonsils.

Symptoms of Red Spots on Back of Throat

Most of the time, red spots and bumps on your throat are symptomatic of an infection or irritation, and will be accompanied by other symptoms.

For example, the inflammation at the back of your throat may make swallowing painful and difficult. This can cause a scratchy or itchy sensation when trying to eat food or drink something. A more severe throat infection could give you a “sandpaper” throat along with a red rash.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler in eMedicineHealth says that red bumps on the back of the throat can also include any of the following symptoms:1

Causes of Red Bumps on Back of Throat

There are many reasons why you can have an irritated throat with red bumps on it. At the end of the article, you will find some helpful home remedies to get rid of red spots on the tonsils and ease throat discomfort.

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Strep throat

Strep throat is one of the most common throat infections that causes sore red bumps to suddenly appear at the back of your throat.

PubMed Health says that a Streptococcal bacterial infection causes strep throat. This starts off with a very sore throat before rash-like red dots appear at the back of the mouth and roof of the mouth. The inflammation will usually cause sore red patches on the tonsils. Other symptoms of strep throat include:2

  • Streaks of pus or white patches on the tonsils
  • Fever
  • A gritty feeling when swallowing
  • Swollen lymph glands at the top of the neck

There are many effective remedies to relieve strep throat symptoms and kill off infection-causing bacteria. For example, you can try regularly taking a teaspoon of Manuka honey to soothe your throat. However, honey also has powerful antimicrobial properties that can help to treat a mild throat infection without antibiotics.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is related to strep throat and is a common bacterial infection in children. Just like with strep throat, scarlet fever can result in a very red sore throat.

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the classic symptom of scarlet fever is a bright red tongue with a bumpy appearance. There may also be a whitish coating on the tongue and appearance of white pus on the tonsils.9

Tonsillitis

Inflammation of the tonsils can cause the back of your throat to appear red and swollen because of enlarged tonsils.

Dr. John P. Cuhna on MedicineNet says that tonsillitis can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. The most common symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat. However, the infection can cause redness at the back of the throat along with white spots of pus on your tonsils. You may also experience any of the following symptoms:3

To get quick relief from tonsillitis pain, try sucking on an ice cube to soothe the sore throat, gargle with salt water or drink echinacea tea with honey.

Pharyngitis

A throat infection that is caused by a virus is called pharyngitis and can cause bumps in the mouth and similar symptoms to strep throat.

According to doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viral pharyngitis can cause oral ulcers at the back of the throat or on other areas of the mouth. This may be accompanied by coughing, runny nose, and conjunctivitis.4

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At the end of the article, you can find helpful home remedies to treat viral throat infections that cause red spots in the throat.

Canker sores

Red painful sores at the back of your throat with a white center could be canker sores. It is thought that canker sores are connected to stress, digestive disorders, or a nutrient deficiency.

Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on MedicineNet explains that canker sores are a type of noncontagious ulcer that can affect the oral cavity. Canker sores have a white center with a dark red border and can appear on the tonsils, gums, tongue, or roof of the mouth.5

Try putting a little baking soda mixed with water on the canker sore to help treat the mouth ulcers naturally and reduce the pain and irritation.

Allergic reaction

Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, and getting red bumps on your throat is just one type of allergic reaction you could have.

According to Dr. John P. Cunha on eMedicineHealth, allergic reactions happen when the body’s immune system is hypersensitive to certain substances. Some allergic reactions can cause red bumps on the back of the throat to appear and/or a sore throat. Of course, an allergic reaction that affects the throat can become an emergency if the throat starts to swell.11

Other symptoms and signs of an allergy can include:

  • Itchy hives on various parts of the body
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Bumps on the throat, neck, tongue, or eyelids
  • A runny nose
  • Stomach pain

If you are bothered by allergies, you can try some of my natural antihistamines to help reduce symptoms of allergic reactions or try to diffuse these essential oils for allergy.

Mononucleosis (mono)

Tiny red dots on the back of your throat could be a symptom of an infectious virus called mononucleosis. Mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is commonly transmitted by kissing (sometimes called the “kissing disease”).

Dr. William Blahd on WebMD says that one of the common symptoms of mono is little red spots inside the mouth. Mono will also cause a very red sore throat along with fever, chills, and muscle aches.6

Other symptoms of mono can include:

Hand, foot and mouth disease

One reason for sore spots on the back of the throat in children is an infection called hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). This is usually a short-lived illness that affects kids under 10 and rarely causes any complications.

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Dr. Mary Harding on Patient.info reports that the first symptoms of HFMD are a fever and general feeling of being unwell. Usually, the next stage is spots that appear in the mouth and develop into sore ulcers. Children usually complain of a sore throat as well.7

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is contagious through coughing, sneezing, or through feces. Therefore, it’s important to remind children to always wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Herpangina

Herpangina is another reason why children can get red ulcer-like bumps on the back of their throat. Like hand, foot, and mouth disease, herpangina is an infectious viral infection.

According to an expert on infectious diseases Dr. Sandra G. Gompf, herpangina starts off as a very sore throat and fever. This is followed by the appearance of red sores on the back of the throat or roof of the mouth. Along with a painful sore throat and difficulty swallowing, children with herpangina may experience the following symptoms:8

Oral candidiasis (oral thrush)

A yeast infection of your mouth can cause red patches on the back of the throat that are covered with white stuff. Candida infections are common after being on antibiotics, in people who wear dentures or have a compromised immune system.

According to dermatologist Dr. Amanda Oakley, oral candidiasis can cause raw red patches on the inside of the mouth that have white stuff on them. In some cases, the whole mouth can be sore and smooth red patches on the tongue appear.

Other symptoms of a candida infection in your mouth can include:

  • Cracks at the corner of your mouth (angular cheilitis)
  • Bleeding if the mouth bumps are scraped
  • White lesions in the mouth that looks like cottage cheese
  • No sensation of taste
  • Bad breath

Natural remedies that include coconut oil, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, or garlic are all natural ways to treat candida infections naturally.

Oral cancer

Although rare, oral cancer can start off as a red lesion on the back of the mouth or on the inside of your cheeks.

Researchers from Cancer Research UK say that a red patch on the inside of your mouth could be a precancerous lesion. They describe these lesions as red patches of the mouth that bleed easily. Other symptoms could be a mouth ulcer that doesn’t heal, constant discomfort of your mouth, a lump in your neck, or difficulty swallowing.10

Acid reflux / heartburn

Acid reflux creates the possibility of having sores on the back of your throat as well as discomfort.

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Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid escapes back up the esophagus causing discomfort in the chest. However, the acidic fluid can irritate the delicate lining of your throat causing blisters to appear. In fact, doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that a red sore throat is a common symptom of heartburn.12

Make your own antacid by mixing a 1/2 tsp. baking soda in an 8-oz. glass of water and drink up to 7 glasses a day to relieve heartburn symptoms. If you are over 60, you should not exceed the dose of 3 glasses in a 24-hour period.

How to Treat and Cure Red Bumps on the Back of Throat

When it comes to getting rid of red sores, spots, or bumps on the back of your throat, it’s important to know how to prevent them in the first place.

How to prevent red sores on throat

Many of the reasons why you can get red sores or bumps on your tonsils or back of the throat are due to viral or bacterial infections.

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following steps to prevent throat infections:13

  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmitting germs to your mouth or eyes
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of an upper respiratory infection
  • If you need to sneeze or cough, cover your mouth
  • Don’t share eating utensils with others

How to treat red spots on the back of the throat

Treating sore red patches on the back of the throat that are caused by infections include natural remedies that soothe a sore throat and kill off infection.

One of the best ways to help speed up the healing time of a sore throat and relieve the discomfort is to gargle. According to Dr. John P. Cunha on MedicineNet, two of the best types of gargles to ease a sore throat are apple cider vinegar or salt.14

How to make an apple cider vinegar healing throat gargle:

  1. Mix 1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar in an 8-oz. glass of water.
  2. Take a mouthful of the remedy and gargle for a minute or so.
  3. Repeat a few times during the day to help kill off the throat infection and get rid of the bumps at the back of your throat.
  4. Take a teaspoon of raw natural honey to provide extra relief for a very sore throat.

How to make a warm salt water gargle:

  1. Put 1 tsp. sea salt in an 8-oz. glass of warm water and mix until the salt has dissolved.
  2. Gargle the mixture for a minute and spit out.
  3. Use frequently the salt water remedy throughout the day to soothe an irritated throat and help the infection heal quicker.

If a family member has a throat infection, you can use a salt water gargle to help prevent upper respiratory infections. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine reported that gargling with salt water is a cheap and effective way to prevent sore throats, colds, and other similar infections.15

When to see a doctor

Sore throats can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and make you feel very sick. However, throat infections and their symptoms usually only last a little longer than a week. Sometimes, a sore throat can become severe and require treatment from a doctor.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic recommend seeing a doctor for a severe sore throat in the following circumstances:16

  • It is very difficult or painful to swallow
  • A sore throat starts suddenly, and the back of your throat is red
  • You have digestive upset that causes stomach aches
  • You have signs of white pus on the tonsils
  • You have a sandpaper-like rash with tiny red dots on the inside of your mouth or your body

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. eMedicineHealth. Sore
  2. NCBI. Strep throat: symptoms.
  3. MedicineNet. Tonsillitis and Adnoiditis symptoms.
  4. CDC. Pharyngitis (strep throat).
  5. MedicineNet. Are canker sores contagious?
  6. WebMD. What are the symptoms of mononucleosis?
  7. PatientInfo. Hand, foot, and mouth disease.
  8. Medscape. Herpangina clinical presentation.
  9. CDC. Scarlet fever.
  10. CancerResearchUK. Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer.
  11. eMedicineHealth. Allergic reaction.
  12. ClevelandClinic. GERD or acid reflux or heartburn.
  13. CDC. Strep throat.
  14. MedicineNet. Natural and home remedies that soothe and get rid of sore
  15. Am J Prev Med.2005 Nov;29(4):302-7.
  16. ClevelandClinic. How to tell if your sore throat needs a doctor’s visit.
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