Oral care

Transient lingual papillitis: Causes, Symptoms, Home remedies

Transient lingual papillitis is a short-term disease affecting the tongue. But, it can trouble a lot. Let’s explore its causes and remedies.

What is transient lingual papillitis?

transient lingual papillitis
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Transient lingual papillitis that involves one or different forms of fungiform papillae is a typical agonizing condition of your tongue that is associated with inflammation.

It might be identified with fungiform papillary glossitis or familial (eruptive) lingual papillitis, also called ‘lie bumps’. There are cases of non-painful papulokeratotic. It is a fleeting condition affecting the tongue.

Little white or red bumps show up on the tongue in case of transient lingual papillitis. Discomfort distress and pain are normal, but it passes rapidly within 2 to 3 days without treatment and is quite a common illness, typical sickness.

What are fungiform papillae?

The fungiform papillae are special kind of bumps located on the tongue surface typically affecting the temperature receptors, taste buds (particularly those responsible for the bitter taste) and areas with decent blood supplies.

These bumps are found chiefly towards the tip of the tongue and are scattered over the top and sides as well. Being pink and flat, they are not always easy to locate in naked eye.

The size and number of such bumps differ:

  • More fungiform papillae found in females than males
  • After the menopause, they even increase even more.
  • Reduced sensation of taste and decrease in the number of fungiform papillae are common in cases of nerve damage.

In various conditions, fungiform papillae can be located easily, such as in the ‘strawberry tongue’ condition that is common in scarlet fever.

Common Symptoms of strawberry tongue:

Red or white bumps are appearing on the tongue with some discomfort and pain. It is more like having pimples on your tongue. The common features of these bumps are:

  • Itchy
  • Swollen
  • Tingly
  • Painful
  • Uncomfortable

There are usually no more associated symptoms other than the irritation and pain in the bumps itself.

Who suffers from transient lingual papillitis and its causes?

More than half of the population is affected by the classic form of this disease including all age groups; however, it affects the young women more. Local injury or aggravation is most common reason behind transient lingual papillitis.

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But numerous other conceivable causes trigger this disease such as particular foods, gastrointestinal disorders, hormonal fluctuations, and stress.

Young kids and their families are usually affected by the familial version of the disease, eruptive lingual papillitis. It can take place throughout the year, despite the fact that it mostly occurs in the spring.

Kids coming in close contact with other children, for example, in day care centres, kindergarten or schools have more chance of developing the disease. Individuals affected by viral diseases at some point in their life seem to be more susceptible to the disease.

As per one hypothesis, the individuals get the infection in their childhood, and it makes a recurrent cause of the disease throughout their lives just like herpes simplex virus and cold sores. This is true for the classic type of transient lingual papillitis.

Other Causes:

Having hot and spicy foods containing peppers and chilis can trigger or elevate the disease. It is considered more like an inflammatory illness with underlying causes still not clear.

However, many studies have revealed that though the cause of the disease is not well understood, it cannot be regarded as harmful to the individuals. More research is needed to understand the disease better. The following conditions usually trigger the disease:

  • Having regular diet containing a high percentage of sugar
  • Having acidic foods in a high amount
  • Taking spicy food regularly
  • Suffering from other inflammation and stress
  • Having indigestions
  • Accidental burning and biting injuries to the tongue
  • Having specific food allergies

According to many theories, the disease is caused by irritation in the tiny papillae present on the top layer of the tongue. Taste buds are present within these papillae and upon irritation; they may become swollen forming bumps.

Patients having diseases like hay fever, asthma or dermatitis in the past have the propensity of acquiring this disease. This may be because environmental sensitivity of the tongue is increased in this disease similar to that of nose, lungs or skin in hay fever, asthma or dermatitis respectively.

Transient lingual papillitis Symptoms or clinical features:

The Classical form of the disease:

Presence of a solitary painful raised white or red bump is common in the classical form of the disease. The bump is usually seen in the tip of the tongue.

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This generally goes in 1 to 2 days but can reappear after some days ranging from weeks, months or even years. Some bumps with tingling or burning sensation which disappears within a few hours or last for some days are less common.

Bumps with no symptoms may also appear but is rare. A few reports propose a relationship with scalloped markings or geographic tongue on the sides of the tongue.

Papulokeratotic types:

Symptomless repetitive numerous white bumps on the tongue are associated with the papulokeratotic variant of the disease. They might be persistent.

Eruptive lingual papillitis:

It is systemic disease usually accompanied enlargement of lymph nodes and fever. The development of symptoms of the disease is sudden the affected individual loss appetite and generates more than average saliva. Enlarged and inflamed bumps can be visualized on the side and tip of the tongue with the appearance like pustules.

The disease usually goes away within one to two weeks and may reappear in one to two months with similar clinical features. Siblings, parents and other family members may also develop the same symptoms after one to two weeks.

The clinical features are same in both the adults and in children. A sudden intense sensation of burning on the tongue that worsens during consumption of food is a common clinical feature of the disease, particularly in adults.

Analysis or Diagnosis of transient lingual papillitis:

This disease is, in general, analyzed by the typical presentation. Although swelling and inflammation can be visualized using mucosal biopsy, it is not always a primary requirement. In most cases, stains cannot detect the presence of bacterial, fungal or viral infection. Mild chronic inflammation and hyperparakeratosis can be seen on biopsy for the papulokeratotic variant.

Available Treatments of transient lingual papillitis:

In general, the classic form of the disease does not need any medical intervention as it diminishes on its own in a few hours or days.

However, some treatments are suggested to offer some relief to the patients from the discomforts and pain. These include:

  • Rinsing the mouth with salt water
  • Taking yoghurt and other soothing foods
  • Rinsing the mouth with cold liquids
  • Application of topical steroids
  • Using local anaesthetic and antiseptic mouthwash solutions

But, in most cases, these treatments do not offer much relief to the sufferers or prevent recurrence of the disease. The severity or duration of the disease has not been found to change in children by using local antiseptics, ibuprofen, and paracetamol.

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You can also try implementing the following methods to fasten the healing process or getting relief from the symptoms:

  • Try to avoid spicy and acidic foods
  • Regularly brush your teeth after each meal
  • Reduce bacterial load in your mouth by using good quality mouthwash
  • You can rinse your mouth with salt water
  • You can use over the counter topical medicines to reduce discomfort and pain

When to seek medical help:

If you find that the lie bumps are appearing too frequently, you need to have them inspected by your physician. It is better to get your throat and tongue inspected when you have the following symptoms:

  • They are persistent and not going away on their own even after weeks
  • They are coming back frequently
  • They are bleeding when touched
  • They are quite painful and causing too much discomfort

In general, healthcare professionals diagnose the disease by physical examination. If they feel that the bumps have been resulted because of some other diseases, they may perform additional diagnostic tests. These causes may include:

Canker sores: They can occur anywhere inside your mouth. They are red in appearance and quite painful, not contagious. Normally, the canker sores go away within two weeks without any treatment.

HPV or the Human papillomavirus: A viral infection that is contagious and spread through skin-to-skin contact causing warts. This infection can affect your throat, mouth, or the genitals.

Scarlet fever: This is a bacterial infection with symptoms of red bumps appearing on your tongue.

Syphilis: This is the sexually transmitted disease where the early symptoms are the appearance of sores inside your mouth.

Traumatic fibroma: It is a pink and smooth growth appearing on your tongue. It can cause chronic irritation and may require surgical intervention to be removed.

Oral cancer: Although not very common, bumps on your tongue may be cancerous. These bumps are red, pink, or grey and bleed on touch. Cancerous lumps usually occur on the sides of your tongue instead of on the top.

Lymphoepithelial cysts: Harmless bumps are appearing under your tongue which is soft and yellow. The cause behind the formation of such cysts is still not known.

  1. Transient lingual papillitis. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontology.
  2. Transient lingual papillitis. Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society.
  3. Transient lingual papillitis. Quintessence International.
  4. https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/transient-lingual-papillitis

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