Raised & Tender Bumps on the Tongue

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Some raised and tender bumps on the tongue are relatively minor and require no medical intervention, other than helping to relieve the associated pain. Yet there are conditions that trigger these bumps that require medical treatments, making it important to consult with a doctor when the lesions don't go away after a week or two.

Canker Sores

These are some of the more common raised and tender bumps on the tongue. They're characterized by the Mayo Clinic as small, shallow lesions that can result from factors including food allergies, tongue injuries, vitamin deficiencies and an underlying medical condition. When they develop, these sores usually resolve themselves in a week or two. However, you can treat the lesions with corticosteroids, nutritional supplements and heartburn medications. Topical pastes of debacterol, benzocaine, amlexanox and fluocinonide can also speed recovery.

Enlarged Papillae

Papillae are the small bumps already present on the tongue. Injury, extreme heat and acidic foods can all cause one or more of the papillae to become irritated and inflamed, resulting in tender, raised bumps on your tongue. Mouth rinses and smoothing teeth can help treat and prevent enlarged papillae.

Oral Herpes

The Merck Manuals Medical Library offers oral herpes as a potential cause for raised and tender bumps on the tongue. This is an infection of the herpes simplex virus. Most lesions clear up on their own after two weeks, but you can use benzocaine and lidocaine to ease pain. More frequent outbreaks are sometimes treated with antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir.


A raised bump on the tongue can also be an indication of syphilis. According to the Mayo Clinic, this sexually transmitted disease causes a small bump to form on the area where the bacteria entered the body, which can include the tongue. The first bumps are painless, but later outbreaks might cause tender wart-like bumps to form on the tongue and mouth. Penicillin is the preferred form of treatment for syphilis. In its early stages, this drug can cure the condition.

Oral Cancer

Though not as frequent as other causes of raised, tender bumps, a small lesion can also be an indication of oral cancer, warns the Merck Manuals Medical Library. These bumps don't go away in the standard two-week time frame. Medical intervention is necessary to treat the cancer and prevent metastasis to other areas of the body.