Q. I have an inflamed foliate papillae for more than three weeks. Is it tongue cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 18, 2017 and last reviewed on: Aug 21, 2019

Hello doctor,

I am a 26 year old female, who has an inflamed looking foliate papillae on right side of the tongue towards the back, it has been like this for more than three weeks now. It has not gotten better or worse, pretty much looks the same.

It creates this feeling of something stuck in the back of my throat, and this feeling gets worse after I eat food or talk a lot. When I wake up in the morning the feeling of something stuck in the throat is less obvious. But as the day progresses, the feeling is more obvious. I think it is because of the enlarged foliate papillae rubbing the back of the throat when I talk and chew.

There is an ulcer like a hole in the middle of the swollen foliate papillae as well, and I am not sure if it is because the papillae is swollen. I do not have pain at all, but sometimes there is this burning sensation. The area looks the same for the past three weeks, and it did not change in appearance or size.

Everywhere I read online says sores that do not heal within 2 to 3 weeks can indicate oral or tongue cancer, so I am terrified. I do not smoke or drink. But I had bad oral hygiene before which resulted in a tooth infection and abscess (on the right upper tooth) about six weeks ago, which has since gotten better but never completely healed. The dentist suggested root canal, but due to the expenses I am not able to get it done anytime soon, so I am just managing the tooth with antibiotics, salt water, and colloidal silver until I can get a root canal.

Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal

Audiology Otolaryngology (E.N.T)


Welcome to icliniq.com.

The lesion on the tongue (attachment removed to protect patient identity) appears to be an ulcerative lesion. You should get yourself examined by an ENT specialist because I think a biopsy might be required. As you might have taken antibiotics for tooth infection, the tongue lesion must have improved.

I suggest you try doing the following.

  • Try applying Kenacort (Triamcinolone) gel to the lesion and use Candid mouth paint (Clotrimazole).
  • Take tablet Vitamin C, once daily.

Consult your specialist doctor, discuss with him or her and start using the medicines after their consent. Any further questions are always welcome.

For further queries consult an ENT otolaryngologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/ENT-Otolaryngologist

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Hi doctor,

Thank you for replying. I stopped taking antibiotics since like 3 to 4 weeks ago, and now I am just doing the salt water and colloidal silver gargles. Do you think the salt water or colloidal silver might have irritated the area and prevent it from healing?

I take multivitamins daily. The area is not painful, with occasional burning sensation (mostly after eating). The area is not too hard to touch, but you can definitely feel the inflamed papillae sticking out. Based on your experience, does the area looks like some form of tongue cancer?

Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal

Audiology Otolaryngology (E.N.T)


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Yes, the area looks suspicious, but I would suggest to stop silver gargles and instead use Chlorhexidine gargles. Try using the suggested medicines for five days, after consulting your doctor, and get back to me. Avoid spicy foods and aerated drinks. I hope you feel better in few days.

For more information consult an ENT otolaryngologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/ENT-Otolaryngologist

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