The cause of blisters on the tongue may be a simple injury or one of several underlying health issues, including canker sores and oral candidiasis.

Some sores go away on their own, while others result from conditions that require treatment.

Anyone who has concerns about these sores or is experiencing additional symptoms should consult a doctor.

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There are various types of sores that can appear in the mouth and on the tongue. Some of them may appear as small blisters.

Blisters are a skin condition that can be painful. They occur when fluid fills the space between the layers of skin.

The most common causes of sores in the mouth and on the tongue, include:

  • canker sores
  • viral infections
  • injury or irritation from food or chemicals
  • other infections, such as bacterial
  • tobacco use


Blisters on the tongue may be canker sores or symptoms of a range of conditions. Keep reading for more detailed information.

Canker sores

Canker sores are white to yellowish open sores that appear inside the mouth — on the inner lips, gums, or tongue.

They are the most common type of oral lesion, affecting around 1 out of 10 people. While the exact cause remains unknown, some triggers may include damage to the mouth, increased stress, and hormonal changes.

Learn more about canker sores on the tongue.

It can be painful if these sores form on the tongue, but they tend to go away without treatment. If the pain is severe or distracting, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication can help.

Learn about remedies for canker sores.

Transient lingual papillitis

Transient lingual papillitis causes bumps, called lie bumps, to form on the tongue. They are larger than taste buds and have a raised rounded appearance.

A person may identify them as blisters.

Usually, this health issue causes no other symptoms, but some larger or more awkwardly placed bumps may cause pain or discomfort.

Researchers have yet to identify the exact cause, but the bumps themselves are generally harmless and go away on their own with time.

Learn more about lie bumps.

Geographic tongue

Geographic tongue causes parts of the tongue to lose their natural bumpiness. Though the areas may not be painful, they can resemble blisters or sores.

Different areas of the tongue may be affected at different times. The issue often persists for days or weeks before disappearing, then reappearing in another spot.

Geographic tongue is typically harmless and requires no treatment. If it causes pain, a healthcare professional may recommend pain relief or anti-inflammatory medications.

Learn more about geographic tongue.

Oral candidiasis

Oral candidiasis, also called oral thrush, occurs due to an infection with Candida yeast.

It typically affects infants, but it may occur in anyone with a weakened immune system.

Oral thrush causes white patches, which are overgrowths of yeast, to form on the tongue, and they may resemble blisters. These patches can cause a cottony sensation in the mouth, pain while eating, and a loss of taste.

Treatment involves antifungal medications.

Learn more about oral thrush.


An injury to the tongue may cause an open sore or blister to form. Injuries may result from:

  • biting the tongue
  • medication stuck in the mouth
  • eating very spicy or acidic foods
  • eating crunchy foods, such as chips
  • eating or drinking something very hot

Anyone prone to injury or with a sensitive tongue should avoid potential triggers.

Lichen planus

Lichen planus is a rare rash that can appear on the tongue, with a whitish, raised appearance similar to a blister.

This rash may also appear inside the cheeks. Lichen planus can also form on the scalp, nails, and other areas of the skin.

It may not cause pain or require treatment. However, if pain and other issues, such as ulcers occur, a healthcare professional can recommend medication.

Symptoms may come and go intermittently for years, and chronic lichen planus can require regular treatment.

Learn more about lichen planus.

Pemphigus vulgaris

Pemphigus vulgaris is a rare disorder that causes blisters to form, first in the mouth, then elsewhere on the body.

The blisters can rupture and become infected and may cause pain and discomfort when eating or swallowing.

Various medications can help manage symptoms and support the skin’s healing.

Learn more about pemphigus vulgaris.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition that affects 1 to 4 million people in the United States. It causes inflammation of the salivary glands and other areas.

This may lead to severe dry mouth, which can cause ulcers and mouth sores. Other symptoms may include dry eyes, skin changes, and joint pain.

Healthcare professionals can recommend various medications to treat symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome and help control the inflammation.

Learn more about Sjogren’s syndrome.

Behçet’s disease

Behçet’s disease causes inflammation of the blood vessels, and painful oral sores are usually the first symptom.

The sores look similar to canker sores. They begin as round, raised areas of inflammation and may come and go with time. Other symptoms include:

  • inflammation of the eyes or joints
  • digestive problems
  • genital ulcers
  • sores on the skin

A range of medications and some lifestyle and dietary changes can help manage the symptoms.

Learn more about Behçet’s disease.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer causes various changes to the mouth, and a sore on the tongue, cheeks, or gums that does not go away can be one symptom. Some others include:

  • an unusually whitish or reddish patch of skin in the mouth
  • growths or lumps in the mouth
  • loose teeth
  • numbness in the face or neck
  • problems chewing or swallowing
  • difficulty speaking

When a healthcare professional diagnoses it early, oral cancer is treatable. Anyone who experiences any of the issues above or any other concerning symptoms should consult a healthcare professional.

Learn more about oral cancer.

Treatment for blisters on the tongue depends on the underlying cause.

Home remedies

Some general strategies for speeding recovery and preventing blisters from forming in the future include:

  • regularly swishing warm salt water around the mouth
  • rinsing the mouth after every meal, especially after eating highly acidic foods
  • making sure to remove devices such as dentures each night
  • practicing good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing daily

Anyone with poorly fitting oral devices, such as retainers or dentures, should bring up the issue with their dentist.

Medical treatments

A healthcare professional will make specific recommendations based on their diagnosis, but a treatment plan may include:

  • antibiotics, to treat bacterial overgrowth
  • antifungals, to treat a yeast overgrowth
  • medicated mouthwashes
  • medications to increase the production of saliva
  • corticosteroids

Some sores or blisters on the tongue heal on their own, but anyone with concerns should consult a healthcare professional, who can help rule out other conditions and advise about the best treatments.

Issues that can signal the need for medical attention include:

  • symptoms lasting for more than a couple of weeks
  • changes in the color, texture, or shape of the tongue or sores
  • symptoms of infection, such as a fever, chills, or fatigue
  • difficulty swallowing

An open sore or blister on the tongue can be uncomfortable and painful. However, in many cases, the issue is temporary and resolves on its own.

In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relief medication can often help.

However, anyone who experiences concerning symptoms should consult a healthcare professional.