Tongue Ulcers

Dr. Rajalakshmi VK (AIIMS)MBBS

January 11, 2019

March 06, 2020

Tongue Ulcers
Tongue Ulcers

What is a tongue ulcer?

Tongue ulcers are open sores that appear on the surface on the tongue or under it and, although not a serious or fatal condition, can usually make the individual very uncomfortable. The cause of a tongue ulcer may be the same as that of ulcers in other areas of the mouth.

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

The symptom of a tongue ulcer is the appearance of the sore itself, which may be big or small in size. The ulcer could be found on the tongue, at the back of the tongue or under the tongue.

The ulcer may be painful and is often red in colour. In some cases, the ulcer may seem white or yellowish in colour. The pain due to the ulcer may be accompanied by a burning sensation, typically intensified after eating hot or spicy foods.

What are the main causes?

The most common causes of tongue ulcers include:

  • Infections – A viral or bacterial infection in the mouth can lead to an ulcer. This is indirectly linked to poor oral hygiene.
  • Nutritional deficiency – Deficiency of iron, zinc or vitamin A can cause sores on the tongue and in the mouth.
  • Injury – A recent injury due to a tongue bite or the use of dentures or braces can lead to the development of a blister or ulcer.
  • Canker sores – Canker sores are yellow- and white-coloured blisters that may occur in the mouth as well as on the tongue due to multiple factors such as cuts in the mouth, hormonal changes and unhealthy diet.
  • Food sensitivity – Some foods such as spicy and acidic foods may cause irritation and ultimately lead to a tongue ulcer.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Tongue ulcers are diagnosed by physical examination.

They usually go away on their own with a little bit of care. If the cause of the ulcer is the deficiency of certain nutrients, the doctor will prescribe a course of these nutrients.

There are a few home remedies which are very effective in healing tongue ulcers.

Rinsing the mouth with salt water helps in drying out the ulcers and also eliminating harmful bacteria. Alternatively, applying a paste made of salt and water can be very helpful.

Using an ice cube to numb the area can be done in order to reduce pain.

While one is suffering from tongue ulcers, it is recommended to avoid hot or spicy foods which may trigger pain.

In some cases, the doctor may provide anti-inflammatory medications to heal the ulcer faster



  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Mouth ulcers.
  2. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Mouth ulcers.
  3. Nidirect [Internet]. Government of Northern Ireland; Sore or painful tongue.
  4. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Sore or white tongue.
  5. National Health Portal [Internet] India; Mouth Ulcers (Stomatitis).
  6. Crispian Scully,Rosemary Shotts. Mouth ulcers and other causes of orofacial soreness and pain. West J Med. 2001 Jun; 174(6): 421–424. PMCID: PMC1071433

Medicines for Tongue Ulcers

Medicines listed below are available for Tongue Ulcers. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

Medicine Name




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