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Pimple-Like Bumps on the Tongue

Pimple-Like Bumps on the Tongue


White, pimple-like bumps that form on your tongue are commonly called lie bumps. Painful and characterized by a swollen appearance, lie bumps are a result of irritation to the individual fungiform papillae that house your taste buds, according to New York University's Scienceline website. The technical name for lie bumps is transient lingual papillitis and is not a serious health condition.


When you examine lie bumps in the mirror you may notice that they are white and quite large. This is because of the inflammation that is occurring as a result of trauma to the fungiform papillae. According to the University of Cincinnati's Net Wellness website, lie bumps are painful and your first reaction may be to run your tongue across your teeth for relief. This is not a good idea as you can worsen irritation and pain despite the temporary relief.


No one single cause can be attributed to lie bump formation; however, Sciencline states that lie bumps have been found to appear in individuals who eat high acidic fruits and vegetables as well as sugary food and drink. Another factor contributing to lie bumps is trauma caused by scratching or cutting of the delicate fungiform papillae. Factors that are still being studied include gastrointestinal complications and stress as well. Lie bumps are not contagious and are not caused by bacterial or fungal infections.


Treating lie bumps begins with oral hygiene methods. Brushing twice daily and flossing afterward helps prevent bacteria from causing infection in your taste buds. According to Net Wellness, over-the-counter medications such as OraBase or Zilactin can be used to cover lie bumps, acting as a bandage. This prevents further irritation and allows bumps to heal without risk of infection. Another step to consider in treatment is rinsing with a warm salt water solution or mouthwash.

Wives' Tales

Although there is no simple solution to the cause of lie bumps, one thing is for certain, stories do grow out of this condition. According to Scienceline, long ago these painful bumps were attributed to telling falsehoods, or lies. Because of this belief, they were called lie bumps indicating that lying would cause this painful affliction. Interesting history does little to explain the truth behind this condition, and some people actually still believe this old wives' tale.


Lie bumps, although not contagious, should be treated with absolute care. Lie bumps clear on their own within two to three days provided there is no further irritation of the tongue. Limiting sugary and acidic foods during the healing process may help. Bumps that last longer than one week need medical attention as this could be a separate condition altogether.

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