Red Bumps at the Back of the Throat

Red bumps in the back of the throat can be part of your normal anatomy or a sign of a medical condition.Tonsils sit in the back of your mouth on either side of your tongue and, in some people, can be naturally large. They often have grooves in them, giving them a bumpy appearance. The tongue can have large taste buds on them that can also appear like bumps in the back of the throat. Any of these areas can appear pink or red. However, there are times when the appearance of red bumps may be the sign of a problem, and you will need to consult your doctor.

The Tonsils

The tonsils are usually pink in color but if they are red and swollen, they could be infected. If you have infected tonsils, you might also symptoms such as sore throat, fever or swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes white or yellow patches coat the tonsils. These can be a sign of strep throat, though viruses may also be a culprit. In fact, the majority of these infections are caused by viruses, so antibiotics will not be effective. If you have been near someone who has had strep throat, or if your symptoms do not get better over several days, your doctor may advise an office visit.

The Tongue and Soft Tissues of the Mouth

The tongue can become inflamed, causing red bumps in the back of the throat. These red bumps may or may not be painful and can be caused by fungal infections or certain vitamin deficiencies. The tongue and soft tissues in the mouth can also develop ulcers 3. The area around these blisters can become raised, sore and red. Viruses are a common cause, but certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease, can also be to blame. If an area in the back of your throat does not heal on its own, contact your doctor for an evaluation.


Some infections may lead to abscesses in the back of the throat. These are pockets of infection that fill with pus and debris. These abscesses are often red and can become so large they block the airway and make it hard to breathe. They can form in or around the tonsils. They can also form around teeth or in the soft tissue of your mouth 3. Fever, sore throat or swollen lymph nodes may also be present. If you suspect an abscess, contact your doctor. More severe symptoms, such as drooling, shortness of breath, or difficulty closing your mouth, require immediate medical attention.

What You Can Do

Though red bumps in the throat may have different causes, treatments may be similar. It is important to stay hydrated during suspected infections to keep your immune system strong. Salt water gargles can help to remove debris or bacteria that could get stuck in the tonsils; salt also decreases local inflammation in the mouth. Your doctor might recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever, if needed. If these measures do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend further testing and other treatments depending on the cause of the red bumps.