How to get rid of transient lingual papillitis

Transient Lingual Papillitis: Should You Worry?

Did you notice a painful bump on your tongue? Please don’t try to pinch them out with your fingernails! Do you get them frequently? Or is this your first time? Let us find out whether you should worry or not.

Short answer, No. Transient lingual papillitis (TLP) is the medical word for those tiny bumps. Commonly they are also known as Lie bumps as there is a myth that exists, this comes after telling a lie.


Transient Lingual Papillitis



What is transient lingual papillitis?

In transient lingual papillitis, the fungiform papilla of the tongue inflames to form a painful bump. The color could be red, white, or yellow.

Luckily, the bumps go away within a short period. For this reason, the name transient means temporary. Also, this condition is not dangerous.

What are fungiform papillae?

Papillae are the projections you see on the tongue’s surface. They give them a velvety texture.

There are four different kinds of papillae:

  1. Filiform papillae
  2. Fungiform papillae
  3. Foliate papillae
  4. Circumvallate papillae

Transient Lingual PapillitisAmong these, the fungiform papillae inflame in transient lingual papillitis. These papillae are spread all over the tongue’s surface but are mainly present on the tip and sides. Fungiform papillae are red and mushroom-shaped. TLP can affect one or several fungiform papillae at a time. All these papillae have taste buds except the filiform. The taste buds on these papillae help us identify the taste of the food we eat. In TLP, the affected fungiform papillae do not contain tastebuds. So, the food you eat goes tasteless.

In addition, the fungiform papillae have a good blood supply. Hence, if you try to pull the bumps out with your fingernails or nail cutters, they can bleed and make the pain and condition worse.


What causes lie bumps?

Lie bumps can show up when your tongue is hurt or irritated. The exact cause of these bumps is still not known. But possible triggers include many. They are:

  • Recent trauma
  • Constant local irritation from fractured teeth, oral appliances, and stainless steel crowns
  • Stress
  • Acidic or Spicy foods
  • Sour candies
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Covid-19
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Bad oral hygiene
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Viral infections
  • Allergy to foods, beverages, and oral hygiene products

Transient lingual papillitis reoccur in people who consume spicy foods or sour candies.

However, this could only be a trigger factor. The exact cause is still unknown.


What are the symptoms of transient lingual papillitis?

Transient lingual papillitis show up as red or white bumps. The bumps form when the fungiform papillae inflame. Mostly, these bumps are painful and may last from a few hours to a week. The primary symptom is pain. Apart from pain, there can be:

  • Itching or tingling sensation
  • Burning mouth
  • Discomfort while chewing food
  • Tasteless food
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever in children

Not every person with TLP shows all these symptoms. For some, there can be only bumps on the tongue’s surface without any pain.


How to get rid of transient lingual papillitis


Is transient lingual papillitis contagious?

There are four different types of TLP.

  1. Classic
  2. Papulokeratotic
  3. Eruptive lingual papillitis
  4. Transient U-shaped lingual papillitis

All these types of TLP look different clinically. The difference is mainly in how the fungiform papillae look when inflamed. A study of eruptive lingual papillitis showed household transmission. 53% of the reported cases showed the spread to one or more family members. So, this clinical variant of TLP is contagious.


The classic form is the most common variant. Most often presents as a single bump on the tip. It goes away within 1-2 days or a few hours. Lymph-node enlargement is usually not seen.

The papulokeratotic variant presents as multiple red or white bumps. They are seen all over the tongue’s surface without any other symptoms.

Eruptive lingual papillitis is common among children. They spread from one person to other. Other symptoms of this variant include Fever, excessive salivation, difficulty chewing food, and a burning sensation in the mouth. Lymph-node enlargement is also present.

Transient U-shaped lingual papillitis is one of the most common oral findings in people with COVID-19. The affected people may or may not show tongue swelling.


When should I see a doctor for transient lingual papillitis?

TLP usually goes away without any treatment within three days or a maximum within a week. If they persist beyond a week, visit the dentist soon.

The dentist will visually examine the surface of your tongue to:

  • See how the bumps look
  • Check the severity of your symptoms
  • Decide to which clinical variant they belong
  • Take your history to arrive at a diagnosis.

A biopsy is usually not necessary for transient lingual papillitis. But, if the bumps do not subside, your dentist might request a biopsy to differentiate them from other conditions that cause tongue lesions.


When should I see a doctor


How do you get rid of transient lingual papillitis?

Since the cause of TLP is unknown, there is no single cure that fits all.

The treatment mainly aims to reduce the pain and symptoms shown by TLP. They include:

  • Salt-water rinse to help keep the lesion clean and reduce inflammation.
  • Cold yogurt or ice cream to soothe the tongue.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene to keep the lesion away from food debris and heal faster.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods and candies that could possibly trigger TLP.
  • Pain relief applicants and medication will lighten the pain and reduce the duration of lie
  • Follow a soft food diet to ease eating and chewing.



Transient lingual papillitis is an inflammation that affects the fungiform papillae of the tongue. They show up as a single or many painful bumps. Do not try to pull them out by yourself.

The cause of TLP is still unknown. Usually, they go away without any treatment within a week. Even then, it is best to identify and avoid the trigger if you see a recurrence.

Never take it easy if you find any new change in your tongue that persists beyond a week. Visit your dentist without a minute delay.


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