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Learn about your tongue sore, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your tongue sore from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Tongue Sore Checker

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Your Tongue Sore May Also be Known as:
Blister on my tongue
Bump on my tongue
Sore on my tongue
Tongue blister
Tongue bump

Top 10 Tongue Sore Causes

  1. 1.Cold Sore

    Cold sores (also called oral herpes or fever blisters), are viral infections of the mouth caused by the herpes virus type 1. You were probably infected very early in life as a child when an adult kissed you. The virus stays asleep (dormant) and causes infections every now and then after exposure to lots of sun or emotional/physical stress. It is contagious when an outbreak is happening, but treatment is limited unless you are immunocompromised.

    You can safely stay home or try some minor treatments. As a viral infection, it will go away on its own without antibiotics. Balm mint cream (1%) or topical rhubarb-sage cream may improve symptoms, but it's not standard treatment.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    mouth lesions, pain on the outside of the lips, itchy mouth, burning pain on the outside of the lips, lip numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with cold sore:
    mouth lesions
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Canker Sore

    Canker sores are small, grayish-white sores in the mouth, often on the inside of the cheeks, lips, and on the tongue. No one really knows why canker sores happen, but it seems to be inherited and susceptible to vitamin deficiencies and allergies.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own using Chlorhexidine mouth washes (Peridex or Periogard) or steroid medications (Orabase, Betnesol, or Ovar).

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful mouth sore, numerous mouth sores, mouth sore surrounded by a red area, single mouth sore, oral ulcer
    Symptoms that always occur with canker sore:
    painful mouth sore
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Mononucleosis Infection

    EBV Mononucleosis is a clinical syndrome characterized by fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.

    You should visit your primary care physician within the next 24 hours. Diagnosis is confirmed by looking for antibodies against EBV. Treatment involves supportive care (hydration, antipyretics, and analgesics, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen). Aspirin should not be given to children because of the possibility of Reye syndrome. It is also recommended that you do not do any strenuous physical activity and contact sports in the initial 3 to 4 weeks of illness due to the potential for splenic rupture.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, abdominal pain (stomach ache), cough
    Symptoms that never occur with mononucleosis infection:
    rectal bleeding
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.New Onset Crohn's Disease

    Crohn's disease is a disorder caused by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. The damaging inflammation causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition.

    You should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician within a few days to start diagnostic tests and discuss if a referral to a specialist is needed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Common Cold

    The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

    The common cold is treated symptomatically. Since this is a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective. You can safely treat the symptoms of this condition with over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants, antihistamines & cough medicines.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that never occur with common cold:
    being severely ill, severe muscle aches, rash, severe headache
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Tongue Sore Checker

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  6. 6.Mucous Cyst (Mucocele)

    A mucocele (mucous cyst) is NOT a serious tumor. It's typically caused by repeated biting leading to leakage of mucous from damaged mucous ducts, which accumulates and creates a cyst. It's most commonly found in kids, and usually inside the lower lip but also possibly under the tongue or in the inner cheek.

    You should go to your primary care doctor OR an oral surgeon in the next week or so. There, the doctor can cut out the mucocele and treat it for good.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful mouth sore, painless mouth sore, single mouth sore, sores on the inner cheek, sores on the inner lip
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Strep Throat Requiring Throat Swab

    Strep throat is a bacterial throat infection that can make the throat feel sore and scratchy. Only a small portion of sore throats are the result of strep throat. And, if you do not show enough signs of a true strep throat, testing may be needed before treatment is begun.

    You should visit your primary care physician within the next 24 hours, where a diagnosis can be made via a "rapid antigen test" (it's a throat swab). Treatment with simple antibiotics would be given only if the test is positive. It is important to get treatment, however, because of the possibility of getting a disease called "rheumatic fever" after the strep throat infection.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, sore throat, fever, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with strep throat requiring throat swab:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with strep throat requiring throat swab:
    general weakness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Coxsackie b Virus Infection

    Coxsackie B Virus usually doesn't cause any symptoms but can be the cause of nonspecific fever and, in rare cases, lung or heart infections. The disease is most common in children but adults are susceptible too.

    Coxsackie B Virus infection ends on its own and does not even need a true diagnostic test. Treatment is not necessary, but over the counter medication to symptomatically treat pain and fever might be helpful.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with coxsackie b virus infection:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.Influenza

    Influenza, or Flu, is an infection of the airway caused by the flu virus, which passes through the air and enters the body through the nose or mouth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but the flu is usually more serious.

    If your flu-like symptoms are existing for less than 48 hours, it might be helpful to seek care by telephone or in a walk-in-clinic to get a course of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Most people will get better on their own by drinking lots of fluids and taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetominophen (Tylenol) to help with aches or fever.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cough, muscle aches
    Symptoms that never occur with influenza:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  10. 10.Oral Herpes

    Herpetic stomatitis is a viral infection of the mouth that causes fever and red and inflamed gums. This typically happens early in childhood.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own because it goes away on it's own. Anti-viral treatment is reserved for those who are immunocompromised or with severe cases. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, etc) works to help with the pain. No antibiotics are useful.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    gum pain, painful mouth sore, fever, gum swelling, mouth sore surrounded by a red area
    Symptoms that always occur with oral herpes:
    gum pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Tongue Sore

  • Q.How many sore/blister/bumps do you have?
  • Q.When did you develop the sore/blister/bump?
  • Q.Is the sore/blister/bump painful to the touch?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our tongue sore symptom checker.

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Tongue Sore Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced tongue sore have also experienced:

    • 8% Sore Throat
    • 3% Headache
    • 2% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced tongue sore had symptoms persist for:

    • 47% Less Than a Day
    • 28% Less Than a Week
    • 10% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced tongue sore were most often matched with:

    • 34% Cold Sore
    • 8% Canker Sore
    • 5% Mononucleosis Infection
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Tongue Sore Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having tongue sore.

Take a quiz