Q. I have pimples on the sides of my tongue and it hurts at times. What could be the reason?

Answered by
Dr. Mohammad Emranul Islam
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Mar 24, 2022

Hi doctor,

I have pimples on the side of my tongue spreading to the backside. They hurt at times. I am worried if it could be oral or tongue cancer. I was told there was no reason to be worried by a doctor. I am here to get a second opinion of what it is and how I can treat it since the pimples on the backside of the tongue are highly troublesome.

Also, to let you know, I have been smoking for one and a half years now, and I do deal with a lot of acid reflux. I also have not maintained oral hygiene very well. I have attached pictures of my tongue.



Welcome to

I am sorry for the problems you have.

I saw the attached pictures (attachment removed to protect the patient's identity) and the small swellings on the left side of the base of the tongue. But you did not mention how long you have had the pimples. The first thing to assure you is that it does not look like cancer or malignancy. It may be associated with smoking or gastric reflux. It can also occur due to the sharp edges of the teeth.

Do you have similar bumps on the right side of the tongue? Did you ever have similar problems before this? Do you have any medical condition, or are you on any medications? One more thing to be worried about is the salivary gland. There is a salivary gland beneath the tongue, and it can also be related to infection of that gland. In that case, it will be more painful, especially while eating food.

I have seen similar bumps in patients that appear and disappear randomly. You do not have to worry unless it grows in size, forms an ulcer, becomes firm or hard, or becomes more painful. You can send in more details about the pimple or bump if you want to know more about the condition

Thank you for contacting us.

Thank you doctor,

It is present only on the left side, but the left backside of the tongue hurts. The pain is not persistent.



Welcome back to

You have mentioned a different site of pain, and so the bumps on the lower part of the tongue seem to be not causing the pain. It is the left wall on the backside of the tongue where the lateral wall of the pharynx (hollow tube starting from the nose extending through the neck and extending further down) and the tonsillar glands are present. It looks like you have tonsilitis (inflammation of the tonsillar gland).

Does it hurt while swallowing or have a bad breath or throat pain? I would advise warm saline water gargling five to seven times daily for five days. But I would suggest you see a Maxillofacial surgeon or an ENT (ear, nose, throat) surgeon if you have fever or difficulty in swallowing. Please let me know if you have any other queries.

Thank you for contacting us.

Hi doctor,

My tongue is bothering me with pain in the left backside. I, at times, have an uncomfortable ticklish feeling. The picture I sent is reversed, and that is why it appears to be on the right side. The left side of my neck hurts while swallowing, and jaw soreness is also felt.



Welcome back to

I can see redness around that region, indicating infection or inflammation. Some invisible ulcers could be present at the lower back of the tongue, or a small nodular structure called lymph nodes might be enlarged due to infection. I suggest you see a maxillofacial surgeon or an ENT surgeon for complete examination and management.

I would suggest warm saline water gargling five to seven times daily to provide some relief. Try to avoid smoking, eating oily and spicy foods, mouthwashes. Take medicines for acid reflux. Do you take any other medications like an inhaler? Sometimes inflammation can occur due to the use of an inhaler.

If this persists for a long time, do not delay seeing a doctor. Please let me know if you have any other queries.

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