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Tongue Ulcers

Tongue Ulcers

While ulcers in the mouth usually develop on the cheeks, gums and palate, at times, lesions or canker sores may also develop on the tip, sides or under the tongue. This write-up will provide information on the common causes of tongue ulcers, along with the symptoms, treatment, and a few home remedies for the same.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2018
Liar's Bump? MOM Knows Best.

Tongue ulcers are also known as liar's bumps. One way of treating this condition is to apply milk of magnesia (MOM) to the sore(s) 3 to 4 times a day. This helps relieve the pain and also speeds up the process of healing.

Mouth ulcers are mainly categorized into canker sores (aphthous ulcers) and cold sores. This is a condition characterized by white spot-like lesions or ulcers on the surface of the tongue, including the sides. Tongue ulcers are either off-white colored -- not a severe type, although when they turn dark pink due to inflammation, then it is a severe type with probable bleeding. Canker sores are a very common type of mouth ulcers. These sores may also develop anywhere inside the mouth, like the cheeks, gums, palate, etc. More often than not, lesions appearing on the tongue are canker sores. Cold sores are mainly found on the lips, outer edge of the mouth, cheeks, and the gums. While canker sores can be caused by various reasons, cold sores are caused by a viral infection. However, ulcers on the tongue may develop due to various other reasons too. These ulcers can vary in size, and based on their diameter, they are further classified into minor ulcers (2 - 8 mm in diameter), major ulcers (diameter greater than 10 mm), and herpetiform ulcers (ulcers of 1 - 3 mm in diameter usually appearing in clusters).

What Causes Tongue Ulcers?

In the mouth, the most painful and worst place to have a canker sore is on the tongue. The tongue is responsible for important functions -- senses the taste, directs the food; and the ulcers make all these actions difficult. They may appear in varying sizes or in clusters. There are a few avertable and non-avertable causes for these sores, and they are mentioned below.

Emotional stress
Lack of sufficient sleep
Hormonal imbalance
Menstrual periods
Food allergies
Lack of oral hygiene
Viral infections
Genetic inheritance
Sudden weight loss
Bad reaction to citrus fruits
Weakened immune system
Use of certain medications (which one might be allergic to)
Physical trauma (accidental biting or toothbrush abrasions)
Strong toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate
Deficiency of certain vitamins (vitamin B-12 , iron, or folic acid)

Certain medical conditions and diseases associated with tongue sores are:
  • Crohn's Disease - an inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis - acute inflammatory disease of the large intestine
  • Celiac Disease - an autoimmune intestinal disorder
  • Behçet's Disease - an uncommon disorder of the blood vessels causing chronic inflammation
A few causes that are definitely avoidable are:

Tobacco chewing
Excess alcohol consumption
Excessive intake of tea and coffee, spicy food, etc.
Use of toothpaste and mouthwash containing harsh chemicals

Apart from canker sores, tongue ulcers can be caused by other conditions. They include:

Oral Thrush - It is characterized by yellowish white patches, that may sometimes transform into open sores or ulcers.

Oral Cancer - A malignant tumor of the lips causing small white lumps or white patches on the tongue.

Oral Lichen Planus - This is an inflammatory condition of the mucus membranes in the mouth, characterized by red patches and open sores.

Herpes Simplex - A herpes virus that causes the infection which affects the skin and the nervous system. It results in small impermanent blisters on the mucus membranes and the skin.

Gingivostomatitis - This can be described as a combination of both gingivitis and stomatitis. In this case, the gums as well as the mucus membranes of the mouth get inflamed, leading to sores inside the mouth, including the tongue and palate.

Symptoms of Tongue Sores

The various other symptoms depending upon the underlying conditions that accompany tongue ulcers may vary. In general, ulcers on the tongue may be accompanied by pain, a burning sensation and inflammation.

Oral indicants along with ulcers are:

Sore throat
Trouble swallowing
Swollen tongue
Inconvenience while speaking
Bruising and bleeding
Ulcers on other parts of the mouth

Lesser occurring symptoms related to the bodily systems accompanied by ulcers are:
  • Body pain
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue and malaise
  • Swollen lymph nodes
Note.- Immediate medical attention must be sought if there is high fever, breathing trouble, and sudden swelling of the throat and tongue.

Treatment Options & Home Remedies

The efficacious way to cure these very annoying tongue ulcers is to take B-complex tablets and vitamin supplements. Besides, topical application of glycerin on the affected area will help heal the bruises soon. There are over-the-counter products like Orajel and Anbesol, which contain benzocaine -- a numbing agent; this would help soothe the pain.

A few effective home remedies which alleviate the irritation and cure the ulcers are mentioned below.

Topical application of honey, butter or coconut oil on the ulcers will alleviate the ulcerative pain.

Applying milk extracted from a banyan tree will rapidly heal the lesion. This should be done preferably in the morning and before bed at night, for two days minimum.

Mix salt in warm water and rinse your mouth, this will keep the stickiness due to ulcers at bay.

Drink one teaspoon of pure coconut oil regularly for a few days, as this will cure stomach ulcers, which in turn would aid in healing the tongue ulcers.

Munch on some ripe papayas, bananas, or green apples, till the sores vanish. This too has proved to be very effective in treating tongue sores.

Crush some fig tree leaves, mix it with honey, and apply this mixture on the lesions for quick relief.

Include plenty of yogurt in your daily diet, as it contains acidophilus (a bacterium) which stimulates the immune system.

As mentioned earlier, the treatment may vary according to the underlying cause. In most cases, these ulcers are caused by simple reasons like a tooth abrasion, intake of hot food or the use of certain medications. In such cases, the condition may subside within a few days. However, an underlying cause like an infection, vitamin deficiency, etc., requires medical intervention. You must consult your doctor if these ulcers are persistent or recurrent in nature. Those who experience severe and additional symptoms must also get themselves checked.

Now here's something to make you feel special until the sores vanish, Shakespeare wrote that "Loathsome canker lives in the sweetest bud." :)

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is purely for informative purposes, and should not be treated as a replacement for professional medical advice.