Red Spots on Tongue

Red spots on tongue may be caused due to a harmless condition or a severe underlying disease. Hence, it is important for all patients to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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  • Red spots on tongue may sometimes develop as red bumps. Such unsightly bumps may be painful and elicit a burning sensation.
  • The presence of painful red bumps can lead to difficulties in eating and chewing food
  • In rare cases, the condition may not be painful. They may however occur as bumps that are hard to touch. It can be a symptom of oral cavity cancer. It may also be noted that cancer related bumps appear only on one side of the tongue and on the mouth floor.

Causes of red spots on tongue

Some of the causes  are listed below:

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  • Geographic tongue: It is a condition which results in the appearance of a map-like pattern on the tongue surface as well as red spots on tongue. It is a harmless condition, but patients may seek medical attention if they experience discomfort or pain.
  • Allergic reactions: Red spots on tongue can also develop due to an allergic reaction after contact with different kinds of allergens such as medications, food, etc. For example, asthma patients may elicit the characteristic red spots after an allergic reaction which causes inflammation of the lungs.
  • Scarlet fever: It is a fever caused due to infection by the strep bacteria. It also results in formation of red spots on tongue
  • Vitamin B deficiency: One of the most common causes of red spots on tongue is deficient intake of vitamin B.
  • Digestive conditions: Red spots or bumps on tongue may also occur due to varied gastric abnormalities such as acid reflux that cause adverse action by the acid regurgitated from the stomach.
  • Oral cancer: It is a rare cause of the tongue anomaly. It may however aggravate the condition can lead to formation of lumps which may or may not be painful.
  • Smoking and alcohol abuse: The tongue may also experience swelling and develop red dots due to excessive smoking or increased alcohol intake.
  • Kawasaki disease: It is an autoimmune disease which results in formation of large reddish spots on the back part of the tongue. Such bumps are really warts which can be eliminated via therapies.
  • Other causes: Sexually transmitted diseases, disorders of the taste buds, intake of hot and spicy food, physical injury, bleeding, and increased body heat, etc. can also lead to appearance of red spots on tongue.


Treatment of red spots on tongue is aimed at finding out the underlying cause and then treating it. Harmless cases of the tongue abnormality may be treated in the following ways:

  • Intake of sufficient quantities of vitamin B via food and supplements to offset its deficiency in the body. Red meat, apricots, nuts, etc. are excellent sources of vitamin B and iron.
  • Maintaining a good dental hygiene. Use toothbrushes with soft bristles to avoid hurting the tongue.
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