Red spots, dots or patches on tongue can appear on the back, side or tip of the tongue. They may also show up under the tongue. It is also common for just a single spot to appear to tongue. Red spots on tongue may be as a result of harmless causes. On the other hand, may also be an indication of a more serious health problem. Explore the possible causes of red spots on tongue, including their pictures. Also, learn how to get rid of them using treatments and home remedies.
Summary of Page Contents
- Signs & Symptoms of Red Spots on Tongue
- Causes of Red Spots on Tongue
- Red Spots Under Tongue
- Red Spots on Tip of Tongue
- Red spots on Back of Tongue
- Small Red Spots on Tongue
- Single Red Spot on Tongue
- Painful Red Spots on Tongue
- Red Tongue with Red Spots
- Red Spots on Tongue Toddler, Baby or Child
- How to Get Rid of Red Spots on Tongue
- When to See a Doctor over Red Spots on tongue
- Sources and References
Signs & Symptoms of Red Spots on Tongue
Some of the general signs and symptoms of red spots, dots or patches on tongue include:
- Pain on tongue
- Red marks or patches on tongue
- Red sores on tongue
Causes of Red Spots on Tongue
Red spots, dots or patches on tongue are caused by various factors or reasons. These factors determine the type of spots that appear on the tongue. For instance, the size and location of the red spots on your tongue can be identified based on the causal agents.
In addition, being conversant with causal agents of red spots on tongue, it can help you to avoid and prevent the formation of more spots on tongue. It also guides your doctor to give accurate medication.
The following are factors that are likely to cause red spots on tongue and they include:
Red spots or dots on tongue can develop from injuries, but how? Tongue injuries can arise during the process of chewing food or something palatable like a chewing gum. Biting your tongue once at a time is quite normal. However, repeatedly biting your tongue is not normal and it might be a problem of dental alignment that needs health check-ups.
Putting sharp objects in your mouth can damage the tongue. Toothpicks and a hard toothbrush can hurt your tongue to develop red spots. Also, chewing dry foodstuffs such as pop corns might scratch your tongue.
Injuries on the tongue can arise from burns of too hot food or acidic food. Your tongue can develop injuries after attempting to eat too hot food or drinks. Chemical burns as a result of taking poison substance like a detergent can be the reason for the formation of red spots on tongue.
The sensitivity properties of the tongue to the foreign substance can be the cause of red spots, dots or patches on tongue. Some food taken through the mouth can cause your tongue to develop an allergic reaction and respond by showing red inflammation on the surface of the tongue.
Some of the allergen that might stimulate the tongue to develop red bumps includes:
- Spicy food
- Some medications
- Taking Acidic food
- Eating raw food and raw tubers
3. Enlarged papillae (transient lingual papillitis)
From the structure of your tongue and characteristic, a normal tongue has a small bump like structures called papillae. These papillae consist of taste buds that have the ability to differentiate various taste of food substance placed on the tongue.
Papillae are more sensitive to hot or spicy food. Taking too hot drinks can irritate these papillae to become inflamed and appear as red spots on tongue. Inflamed papillae are a mild condition that usually heals within a period of few days.
4. Canker sore (aphthous ulcer)
Red spots on tongue can appear due to canker sore infection. These infection results in the formation of small dots like bumps and painful blisters that appear to develop into white ulcers that have red spots.
Other than affecting your tongue, canker sores can also manifest into other parts through a painful l red fluid-filled blister on gums, inside of cheeks and on lips. The infection has no clear causal agent but above all, the outbreaks of canker sores are associated with the weakened immune system, trauma, and allergies.
5. Cold sore
An outbreak of cold sore on your mouth can lead to red spots on tongue. Cold sores are painful blisters that appear on tongue, lips, inside nose and on cheeks. The main cause of cold sore on the tongue is herpes simplex virus type 1, which can be transmitted easily through direct contact with contaminated saliva.
Cold sore can result to red spots on tongue and it can last about ten days before going away. However, for people with poor body defense mechanism, cold sores can cause a serious mouth problem that needs to be treated by the doctor.
6. Lie bumps
Lie bumps sometimes are called transient lingual papillitis. These are small red bumps or white spots that appear on the tongue. Lie bumps on tongue have no clear cause but the problem is described to develop from papillae. It is believed that the irritation of papillae on the tongue due to spicy food or too hot food can result in inflammation to develop into red spots on tongue.
A toddler or a baby can develop lie bumps on tongue easily. The infection is common to the young individual but it can also affect adults. Children are more prone to this infection because it is highly contagious. You can also develop lie bump due to the following predisposing factors:
- Hormone fluctuations in the body.
- Weakened immune system.
- Allergy reaction.
7. Scarlet fever
Red spots on tongue can be a consequence of having scarlet fever. This infection arises from streptococcal bacteria. These bacteria are contagious and it can spread easily in a group of people within a short period of time. The infection can make your tongue to look bumpy with red burns.
Scarlet fever is a common infection that usually affects the young individual. For the few occasion, an adult can also get scarlet fever.
The infection can appear on a toddler or an infant which appear to be a serious health condition that accompanies other symptoms such as:
- Sore throat
- Skin rash
8. Oral thrush
Oral thrush or yeast infection can result in the formation of red spots on tongue. These are a fungal infection that affects the tongue to develop white coating with red sores. A yeast infection usually affects infant and toddlers to develop red and white patches on the tongue. Adults can also get oral thrush on the tongue.
In addition to red patches on your tongue, oral thrush can also coat taste buds on tongue hence loss of taste and appetite. It also makes it difficult to chew food or drink something. Oral thrush can advance to cause a lot of tongue pain. For this reason, you can visit a medical center for treatment.
The following are risk factors that can result to oral thrush:
- After the use of strong antibiotics medication in your body
- if your immune system is weakened due to chemotherapy
- when you wear loose dentures
- not cleaning your mouth
- if you have an underlying medical condition like the case of diabetes
- when you are using tobacco products
9. Syphilis (STD)
Syphilis is an example of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) that can cause red spots on tongue. The infection can be transmitted during sexual intercourse with an infected person. Also, a mother can pass the infection to the infant. Syphilis can cause painful sores on the head of the penis, inside the vagina, on the vulva, lips and inside the mouth including the tongue.
The primary stage of this infection is associated with sores that appear on the mouth, genitalia parts and around the anus. At primary stage, your tongue develops red bumps that are painful. Syphilis also has a secondary, latent and tertiary stage. It is better to go for treatment before the final stage of syphilis that can result in heart and brain damage.
10. Geographic tongue
These are smooth and red patches that appear on the tongue like geographic maps. These patches are usually irregular shaped that occur on top, side, and on the surface of the tongue. The patches or dots of the geographic tongue might be painful and very sensitive to hot, spicy and salty food.
Red spots on tongue as a result of geographic tongue infection are not a serious health condition. They are usually benign and these patches can go away without treatment. In case of irritation, you can use over-the counter painkillers to ease the pain.
11. Tongue cancer
Tongue cancer is a type of oral cancer that might cause the development of red spots on tongue. The condition results to tongue ulceration that does not heal and they can easily bleed if something touches on it.
Tongue cancers are associated with other symptoms like:
- Pain in the entire mouth parts
- Pain inside the ears
- Difficulty to swallow food or something.
Tongue cancer is treatable at earlier stages through medical surgery and cancer therapies. In case you experience any strange sign and symptoms that can be associated with cancer, visit your doctor for a diagnosis.
Leukoplakia is known to cause white spots on tongue. Occasionally, it might also result in red spots on tongue. Generally, this condition starts to appear as white irregular patches on the tongue which might advance to painful red spots on tongue.
Leukoplakia is common to people who smoke tobacco or take a lot of alcohol. The condition is harmless but it can advance to be precursors of the precancerous condition in the mouth. Medical checkups are important. Visit your doctor in case your tongue has this condition.
13. Kawasaki’s syndrome
These are a rare condition that can affect children below six years. Kawasaki’s syndrome is a circulatory disorder that affects coronary arteries that transport blood to the heart tissue. The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown but the condition is treatable.
Signs and symptoms of Kawasaki’s syndrome:
- Red spots on tongue
- Dry lips
- Body rashes
- Swollen limbs and lymph nodes neck region.
14. Nutrients deficiency
Poor nutrition can result in small red spots on tongue. Lack vitamin B complex can make your tongue susceptible to sores. Lack mineral salts like iron and calcium can be the cause of red dots on your tongue. Eating a balanced diet can help your body to escape from mouth sores.
Red Spots Under Tongue
Can a red spot appear under the tongue? It is possible to develop red spots under your tongue that can cause a lot of discomforts especially when it persists for long before healing. Red spots under the tongue can hurt you more than a spot on the surface of the tongue. Especially when it occurs at the frenula and around saliva ducts.
There are known conditions that result in the appearance of red spots under the tongue. Firstly, canker sores and cold sores can be the reason for having red spots under your tongue. These two infections have almost similar signs and symptoms that can confuse you. But keep in mind that cold sore has blisters that burst, ooze, and crust over while canker sores appear like ulcers.
Syphilis infection can also result in red spots and sores under the tongue. Other oral infection like scarlet fever and Kawasaki disease might result in the formation of red spots under the tongue. It is advisable to seek consultation from your doctor if you experience any strange spots, dots or patches under your tongue.
Red Spots on Tip of Tongue
The tip of the tongue might develop a red spot that arises from tongue injuries. Biting yourself on the tip of the tongue can result in the formation of red spots on tongue. Tongue injuries usually develop inflammation that appears like red blisters and is usually filled with blood.
Enlarge papillae due to irritations on the tongue can lead to red spots on tongue. The condition of having enlarged papillae is always harmless and no need to see a dentist for treatment because it can take few days to heal.
Other oral infection like canker sores, scarlet fever, syphilis, cancer and oral thrush might be the reason for having red spots on tip of your tongue. You need to determine the exact causes of red spot on tip of your tongue by visiting your dentist. Some oral infection such as cancer can develop into threatening conditions that need medical treatment.
Red spots on Back of Tongue
From the nature and structure of the tongue, the back of the tongue has tiny invisible bumps called papillae that have taste buds. When your tongue gets some irritation, the tiny papillae become enlarged and appear as red spots on tongue.
A trauma on your tongue might cause red spots to appear on the back of the tongue. For instance, tongue injuries from hot food can cause papillae to enlarge and become inflamed. Use of hard toothbrush to clean your tongue can also damage the papillae to become swollen.
Red spots on the back of tongue can develop due to other causes that include:
- Canker sores are ulcers that can appear at the back of the tongue.
- Allergies, they can irritate at the back of the tongue and develop into red
- Cold sores, caused by oral herpes, it results in the formation of large fluid-filled blisters that appear at the back of the tongue.
- Syphilis causes rashes or red spots on tongue surfaces including the back.
Small Red Spots on Tongue
Red spots on your tongue range in various sizes and shapes basing on the causal agent. Some condition or infection might result in small spots on tongue while others can lead to big red spots on tongue. Let’s focus on the small red spots on the tongue.
- Lie bumps: these are small red bumps that appear on the surface of the tongue.
- Allergens: allergies reactions can lead to small red spots on tongue.
- Scarlet fever: can cause tiny or small rashes on the tongue.
- Cancer: the first symptom of tongue cancer is small or tiny hard spots on tongue.
Single Red Spot on Tongue
Single red spots on tongue can be bothersome especially if the spot does not go away faster. Some single red spot on tongue might result from tongue injury. You can bite your tongue by mistake and cause a single red spot on tongue.
In addition, cold sore or lie bump can exist as a single spot on your tongue. Cold sore can appear as a single red blister that burst, weep and crust over on top, side or any other parts of the tongue.
A single spot on tongue might be the start of a serious attack in the mouth, for example, syphilis infection begins with a single spot that develops into many red spots on tongue. Other tongue infections like scarlet fever, oral thrush, leukoplakia, scarlet fever and geographic tongue can start to affect the tongue by showing single red spot that advances to many spots, dots or patches.
Painful Red Spots on Tongue
Your tongue has a network of nerves for sensitivity. Some red spots on tongue can be too painful and cause a serious burning sensation on the tongue. Painful red spots on your tongue can lead to irritation in entire mouth and make you feel a discomfort.
Red spots on tongue are not always painful, sometimes they might be painless. In general, most of the tongue infections and conditions have a painful experience and they can hurt your more. Ulcers or sore on the tongue can get irritations from salty or spicy food and increase the painful feeling on the tongue.
When your tongue develops painful red spots, it is better to visit your dentist to determine the exact cause of this pain before treatment. Alternatively, you can relieve pain on your tongue by using over-the counter drugs
Red Tongue with Red Spots
A red tongue is also called strawberry tongue. A strawberry tongue is characterized by red spots on the surface, sores, and red patches. It also appears swollen and bumpy red.
Cause of strawberry tongue includes:
- Allergies: allergic reaction due to the presence of allergen leads to the red tongue with spots, coughing, sneezing, itchiness on the tongue and running nose.
- Scarlet fever: is a bacterial infection that results in the strawberry Other symptoms are skin rashes, sore throat, fever and red face.
- Kawasaki disease: it is rare children disease that affects blood vessel, cause red tongue, fever, red eyes, and swollen limbs.
- A burn: due to a high temperature above optimum, causes pain, red blisters, and skin peeling.
- Oral thrush: common in infants and toddlers, cause white patches with red spots.
- Deficiency of nutrients: lack of vitamin B-12, and iron result in red spots on tongue and general body weakness.
Red Spots on Tongue Toddler, Baby or Child
Red spots on the tongue of your toddler or a baby can be painful. It can make your toddler cry and also refuse to eat well. These mean that your toddler is having a lot of irritation on the tongue. Other signs and symptoms such as fever might accompany the red spots on her tongue.
Canker sores and cold sore are common infections that can affect your child to develop red spots on tongue. Oral thrush is another infection a child can get. When you observe strange spots on a baby tongue, medical diagnosis is the best option. Visit your dentist for the treatment of your child.
How to Get Rid of Red Spots on Tongue
Red spot on tongue can be removed using a different method that is based on the type of infections. Some conditions such as lie bumps and inflamed papillae cannot advance into a serious health condition. Home remedies can be used to treat these minor conditions.
Unlike minor spots on tongue, some condition like scarlet fever, tongue cancer, syphilis, cold sore and canker sores can develop into life threatening condition that needs medical treatment from qualified doctors.
Home Remedies for Red Spots on Tongue
The following home remedies can help you get rid of red spots on tongue:
- Salt rinse
Saline water is the best home remedy for mild problems on the tongue. Lie bumps, inflamed papillae, canker sores and allergy reaction on the tongue can be treated using salt solution. Salt has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to relieve pain and irritation caused by red spots on tongue.
How to prepare:
- Measure a ½ teaspoon of table salt and mix with warm water.
- Take the solution and gargle it into your mouth for one minute.
- Spit out the salt solution.
- Repeat the same practice three times per day or after eating until the condition of your tongue improves.
- Baking soda
You can use baking soda as a home remedy to get rid of red spots on tongue. The reagent is made up of sodium bicarbonate that makes it alkaline in nature. The alkalinity nature of baking soda can kill bacteria and microorganism that can invade mouth and cause tongue diseases.
It also eases red inflammation on tongue caused by cold sores, canker sores, inflamed papillae and other mild red dots on the tongue.
How to use:
- Get one teaspoon of baking soda and add to ½ teaspoon of water.
- Mix to get a paste.
- Use the paste to brush your tongue.
- Use warm water to raise your mouth.
- Repeat this procedure three times per day until red spots on the surface of the tongue go
- Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is widely used as a home remedy for red spots on tongue. Aloe Vera has antibacterial and antifungal abilities that can ease pain or irritation on the tongue. The gel can heal allergy reactions, canker sores, lie bumps, and injuries on the tongue.
How to apply it:
- Get Aloe Vera gel and measure about ½ teaspoon.
- Apply the gel on the affected tongue with red spots.
- Remove the gel out of the mouth by spit it.
- Rinse your mouth with water.
- Ensure you do the same procedure three times per day until your tongue attains normal appearance.
- Ice or cold drinks
Ice and cold liquid can be used as home remedy for painful red spots on tongue. The low temperature of the ice can numb nerves and reduce red inflammation on the tongue. In addition, cold drinks keep your body hydrated and prevent dry mouth.
An ice cube can help to relieve red spots caused by inflamed papillae, canker sores, cold sores and lie bumps.
How to use:
- Suck some ice cube or place the piece of the ice cube directly on your tongue
- Alternatively, use ice chips and ice pop on your tongue
- Drink cold water several times until your tongue improves.
- Soothing food
Taking soothing soft food that contains sugar or honey can help you to ease irritation caused by red spots on tongue. Some of the soothing foods include yogurt, honey, milk and ice creams. Ensure you avoid spicy food or acidic food to help the red sores on tongue heal faster.
- Stop taking acidic foods or drinks. Some fruits like oranges, tomatoes, pepper and green vegetable can increase mouth ulcers. You can avoid these acidic foods when having red inflammation on the tongue.
- Stop using tobacco products like cigarettes. Also, avoid taking alcoholic spirit that can burn more your tongue.
- Check on your diet and eat a balanced diet food. Use vitamin supplements if necessary.
Treatment for Red Spots on tongue
Some oral infections cannot be treated by home remedies. These infections include scarlet fever, syphilis, Kawasaki’s syndrome and oral cancer. Such infection requires a special diagnosis from qualified doctors.
When red spots, dots or patches on tongue are too painful and do not go away for a relatively long period of time, you can visit your doctor for a diagnosis.
Your doctor will examine sign and symptoms of red spots on the tongue. He/she might take your oral sample and perform several tests. From the result of the sample test, your doctor will decide the type of treatment to administer to you.
From the decision of your doctor, he/she may prescribe some medication that can help to relieve tongue problems. Drugs like amitriptyline and amisulpride can be prescribed to you. In case of having painful red spots on tongue, your medical expert might prescribe over the counter painkillers to relieve pain faster.
When to See a Doctor over Red Spots on tongue
You can see a doctor over the red spots on your tongue when:
- Red spots on tongue persist for long period of time without a reasonable change.
- When the spots on your tongue cause difficulties in talking, chewing and swallowing.
- If the spots on tongue are accompanied by strange symptoms like fever and headaches.
- When the lesion on the tongue is spreading in the entire mouth at a high
Sources and References
- Causes of red spots on tongue: http://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/spots-on-tongue#causes2
- Red spots under the tongue: https://patient.info/forums/discuss/red-bumps-under-tongue-what-is-it–113999
- Red spots on tip of the tongue: https://www.zocdoc.com/answers/2525/what-causes-spots-on-the-tip-of-ones-tongue
- Red spots on back of tongue: http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/health-articles/bumps-on-back-of-tongue-causes-treatments/
- Small red spot on tongue: http://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/spots-on-tongue#causes2
- Single red spots on tongue: https://www.healthtap.com/topics/one-red-spot-on-tongue
- Painful red spot on tongue: http://www.speedyremedies.com/red-bumps-on-tongue-causing-pain.html
- Red tongue with spots; http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/multiple-symptoms?symptoms=red-(strawberry)-tongue%7Cred-spots%7Csore-tongue%7Cwhite-patches-on-tongue&symptomids=324%7C271%7C540%7C426&locations=7%7C7%7C7%7C7
- Red spots on the tongue of toddler, baby or child: https://familydoctor.org/symptom/mouth-problems-infants-children/
- How to get rid of red spots on tongue: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Bumps-on-Your-Tongue