Having blisters or sores on the tongue can be irritating and concerning. The cause may be a simple injury or one of several underlying health issues.
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.
Blisters on the tongue may be canker sores or symptoms of a range of conditions. Keep reading for more detailed information.
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 up to
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 pain relief medication can help.
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 harmless and go away on their own with time.
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 doctor may recommend pain relief or anti-inflammatory medications.
Oral candidiasis, also called oral thrush, occurs due to an infection with Candida yeast. It
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.
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 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, but if pain and other issues such as ulcers occur, a doctor can recommend medication.
Symptoms may come and go intermittently for years, and chronic lichen planus can require treatment.
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.
Sjogren’s syndrome is a rare autoimmune condition affecting about 0.5 to 1.0% of the population. 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.
Doctors can recommend various medications to treat symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome and help control the inflammation.
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.
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 doctor diagnoses it early, oral cancer is treatable. Anyone who experiences any of the issues above or any other concerning symptoms should consult a doctor.
The best approach to treating blisters on the tongue depends on the underlying cause.
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.
A doctor 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
Some sores or blisters on the tongue heal on their own, but anyone with concerns should consult a doctor, 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 annoying and painful, but 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 doctor.