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Enlarged Papillae : Causes of Bumps on Tongue & Its Treatment, Management

Enlarged Papillae or Bumps on Tongue

Papillae are defined as small raised growths that are naturally found on the surface of the tongue. These raised bumps on tongue are responsible for taste perception and are thus known as taste buds. Papillae have nerve endings which exchanges messages with the brains and help in differentiating tastes between different food items. It has been noted that, under certain unfavourable condition, these papillae gets enlarged, which is considered as abnormal. In most of the cases, enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue is temporary which subsides by itself. However, in certain cases, the condition requires medical attention and appropriate treatment.

Enlarged Papillae or Bumps on Tongue

Causes of Enlarged Papillae: What Causes Bumps on Tongue?

The most common causes of enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue are discussed below:

Excessive Smoking of Cigarettes:

Chronic smoking can lead to irritation over the tongue over a period of time. This leads to inflammation and soreness over the papillae causing enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue. Smoking can also lead to other harmful conditions such as oral cancer which may be associated with enlarged papillae.

Gastrointestinal Issues:

It has been noted that enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue can also occur as a result of gastrointestinal issues. This is more common with conditions such as GERD and ulcerative colitis.


Stress can present itself in multiple ways including enlargement of tongue papillae. In some cases, stress leads to enlarged papillae along with canker sores. This often leads to irritation over the tongue along with pain.

Presence of Underlying Infection:

Any sort of infection over the tongue is associated with extreme painful condition. Infection may be secondary to other reasons such as tongue biting habit; consumption of acidic food; excess consumption of caffeinated beverages; consumption of spicy food or hot food. This in turn is noted on the tongue as enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue over the affected area.

Oral Cancer Can Cause Enlarged Papilla or Tongue Bumps:

In most of the cases, the enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue improve after a while. However, if the condition does not improve or reoccurs frequently, it may indicate presence of other serious conditions such as oral cancer.

Treatment and Management of Enlarged Papillae or Bumps on Tongue

As mentioned earlier, enlarged papillae subsides by itself in most of the cases and may not require any medical attention. Home remedies and change in certain habits can help in accelerating the healing process. However, if the condition does not improve, it is advised to consult an experienced medical professional at the earliest. It has been seen that the following tips often help in controlling the condition:

Quit Smoking:

If enlarged papillae are noted by a smoker, it is advised to quit smoking at the earliest. Smoking increases the irritation over the area and leads to worsening of the condition. If it is difficult to quit smoking abruptly, one can consider switching over to electronic cigarettes, nicotine patches, nicotine gum etc.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene to Manage Enlarged Papilla:

It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent bacterial accumulation in the mouth. It is advised to brush teeth at least twice a day and brush the tongue every day with a tongue scrapper. Regular flossing prevents plaque and tartar formation between the teeth. Healthy mouth helps in avoiding conditions such as enlarged papillae or bumps on tongue.

Avoid Intake of Spicy Food:

Excessive consumption of spicy food may cause irritation over the tongue which in turn leads to enlargement of the papillae. It is advised to avoid consumption of spicy food till the bumps on tongue subside completely.

Salt Water Gargle Can Help Treat Enlarged Papilla or Tongue Bumps:

Salt water gargle can help in soothing the affected area, as it helps in fighting against the bacteria and it also helps in controlling inflammation.

Include Yogurt in Diet:

Regular intake of yogurt helps in combating gastrointestinal issues. This is because yogurt contains essential probiotic which helps in improving the gastrointestinal flora. Probiotic are also available in form of pills which has the same effect on the gastrointestinal system.

Increase Intake of Vitamin B12 and Iron to Treat Enlarged Papilla or Tongue Bumps:

Vitamin B12 helps in combating soreness in the oral cavity including irritation over the tongue. It is important to ensure that our body gets adequate amount of vitamin B12 and Iron to avoid vitamin deficiency related conditions.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 5, 2023

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