Transient Lingual Papillitis

What is Transient Lingual Papillitis?

Transient Lingual Papillitis is also known as fungiform papillary glossitis or eruptive lingual papillitis or more frequently lie bumps. The word transient in the name suggests that the condition occurs only for a short period of time and resolves itself. The condition mostly occurs on the tongue and it manifests in form of small bumps seen to have a reddish and whitish appearance.

The bumps are painful at the base of the tongue. The name ‘lie bumps’ was given based on the theory that if one told a lie they were at risk of being riddled with the condition.

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The surface of the tongue that is the fungiform papillae are inflamed. The condition affects almost half of the population and is most common in women. An eruptive form also occurs in children as well and the condition generally is common in the spring time. The condition is known to cause discomfort while eating or drinking due to inflammation of the taste buds or fungiform papillae.

The forms include3:

  • Classic form– In this form there is a bump on the tip of the tongue. It is normally red and painful. It lasts a matter of days and goes away and later on reappears. It does not affect any other part of the body.It may cause many lesions to occur and a tingling burning sensation but this is a very rare occurrence.
  • Eruptive form– It comes with symptoms such as a high fever and lymph gland enlargements. In children it is known to cause excessive saliva production and a loss of appetite. The fungiform papillae are inflamed on the tip and the side of the tongue particularly. They can last up to 1 or 2 weeks and recur within 2 to 3months. It cannot be easily transmitted to family members and unlike children the main symptom in adults is the burning sensation on the tongue.
  • Papulo-keratic form– The whole surface of the tongue develops white bumps without any other symptom present.


Transient Lingual Papillitis is mainly caused by injury to the tongue surface or the taste buds splitting. This occurs in situations such as eating sharp or edged foods or applying too much pressure while cleaning the tongue. It can also occur if one eats food that is too hot or too cold. It can occur to people under any age bracket, but is more popular in young women.

A definite cause has yet to be determined by researchers and specialists. The bumps do cause minor discomfort for a certain time and naturally go away on their own, but in the situations where they prolong, an oral pathologist is referred and necessary treatment is given.

Other known causes for Transient Lingual Papillitis include3:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Eczema
  • Eating certain types of food that is considered sour or acidic
  • Cold sores
  • Hormonal changes or menstruation
  • Tongue environment sensitivity
  • Viral infections
  • Hay fever
  • Asthma
  • Gastrointestinal disorder
  • Biting the tongue or trauma
  • Vitamin B deficiency.


  • White or red bumps on the surface of the tongue that look swollen hence they are large and apparent
  • The liaisons are often painful and tender to touch
  • Every time you eat or drink they get irritated seeing as it affects the taste buds and food grazes that area
  • Talking can sometimes be made difficult and can cause some discomfort while trying to speak and the tongue due to the swellings may feel slightly heavier than usual
  • The liaisons may be yellow in color and ooze a pus like liquid after a time if they are due to herpes.
  • A fever may occur in few cases
  • In certain scenarios, excessive production of saliva may occur and difficulty in feeding in children
  • The lymph nodes may occasionally swell up.


Unfortunately there is presently still no known treatment for Transient Lingual Papillitis however they have been known to treat itself. The body will resolve itself and return itself to brand new. It just requires patience. The pain and irritation is however really bad in some cases and it is advised to apply an ice pack to the affected area or taking any form of pain killer to help numb the pain. There also some ointments found over the counter that one may try to use to ease the pain.


Sadly, since the causes of Transient Lingual Papillitis are not well known and clear it is unlikely that you will be able to completely avoid the situation. However from the little that is known doctors and professionals have been able to give the below as some of the things one can do to avoid the occurrence of the situation:

  • Eat a proper balanced diet that consists of the required fruits and vegetables with maybe a supplement where recommended by the doctor.
  • Avoid fried food and heavily processed food and food that is spicy as they have the highest probability to cause allergic reactions.
  • Avoid eating food that is too cold or too hot as they have the potential to irritate the tongue and cause splitting of the taste buds.
  • Make sure to drink enough water every day.

Home Remedies

In spite of Transient Lingual Papillitis not being all that serous and fatal a couple of home remedies have been found to speed up the healing process of them and to ease some of the pain and discomfort that they cause. These have been mentioned as follows:5

  • A cold compress is one of the best ones and most common to elevate the pain and discomfort. If you eat something cold such as ice cream it will numb the area affected and in turn reduce the pain.
  • If the cause of the condition is gastric upset try drinking hot water with lemon and honey to ease the digestion.
  • Take many fruits and vegetables as they are rich in vitamin B and minerals that are essential. Where there is deficiency supplements can be taken as prescribed by the doctor.
  • Chewing on mint leaves has also been seen to elevate the pain caused by the swelling.
  • An ice cube can also be used in place of ice cream. Suck on the ice cube for a minute or so to relieve the pain. One may try this right before eating.


There could be a loss of appetite and complete refusal to eat especially in children seeing as the swellings cause discomfort and pain to the individual when chewing and swallowing their food.

It causes excessive saliva production and hence contributing to the feeling of pain and discomfort to the individual. This, just like the loss of appetite is mostly common in children as mentioned above.


Transient lingual papillitis pictures

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Reference List

  1. British Journal of Dermatology. British Association of Dermatologists. From;jsessionid=7968F297D4BC35066824B0D548319C2B.f03t04
  2. British Journal of Dermatology. British Association of Dermatologists. From
  5. Pimples on Tongue: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. From

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