Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
The tongue is one of the body parts that can detect if something unusual is happening in the body.
Doctors check the tongue as a part of the preliminary examinations. The look and feel of the tongue are assess to distinguish any abnormalities. Itchy tongue is one of the common complaints of patients. There are various reasons why a person experiences an itchy tongue. Read this article to find out more about itchy tongue and what you can do about it. (1, 2, 3)
Photo 2: A white coated tongue indicating that something is wrong in the oral cavity.
Photo 3: Visible ridges of the tongue along with pain and itching.
Image Source: www.healthyhowto.org
- Tingling and itchy tongue and roof of mouth
- Burning-like sensation of the tongue
- Itchy red bump on the tongue (4)
- Fissured tongue, especially in severe cases
- Swelling of the tongue
- There tends to be blister formation on the tongue
- Ridges on the tongue are visible
- Soreness of the tongue (3)
What causes itchy tongue?
- Allergic reaction – An allergic respond to medication, food, or anything that can trigger allergy can most of the time leave a burning sensation of the tongue. Food allergy is the common cause leading to burning and itching sensation of the tongue. As with food allergy, the usual foods to avoid are nuts like almonds and hazelnuts and fruits like pineapple and apple. Some vegetables can also cause itching of the tongue such as celery. (5, 6)
- Disease-related itching of the tongue – there are some disease conditions that can cause severe itching and blistering of the tongue. They are the following:
- Diabetes – It is a medical condition that can cause coated or furry tongue. It causes a burning sensation of the tongue. It will irritate not just the tongue, but as well as the mouth and throat, especially if you have a weak immune system.
- Oral thrust and mouth disease – Yeast infection can cause oral-related problems such as ulcer. I causes itching of the tongue and the surrounding structures of the mouth. The tongue is coated with white color or seems to be a creamy coating.
- Aphthous mouth ulcer – This condition leads to itchy tongue, painful sores underneath the tongue and within the area of the mouth.
- Oral cancer – An itchy tongue can indicate oral cancer. You will get oral cancer if you are drinking excessively and smoking tobacco heavily. The use of marijuana can also lead to oral cancer. This type of cancer causes a white patch on the cheek, gums, and tongue.
- Canker sores – Itchy tongue could indicate that you are suffering from canker sore. It usually affect the area under the tongue, inside the mouth, cheeks, gums, and sometimes the back of the throat. Those with weakened immune system are prone to canker sore. People lacking vitamin B12 or those under emotional stress are also susceptible. (4, 7)
- Sexually transmitted disease – Itchy tongue is also associated with sexually transmitted disease. Unusual blemish on the tongue, white spots on the tongue, mouth, and throat could be an early sign of HIV infection. On the other hand, if your tongue is itchy and tingling, you could be suspected to have oral herpes or candida. It is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. It affects the entire mouth including the lips and tongue. (7)
- Sedentary lifestyle – Excessive alcohol drinking and heavy tobacco smoking can irritate the mouth and throat area. Over time, you will feel that your tongue is starting to itch. The chemicals present in the cigarette irritates the tongue and the surrounding tissues. Over time, you could suffer dreadful diseases such as oral cancer. (8)
- Changes in the body – Changes in the body can greatly affect other parts. Usually, the tongue is susceptible to bodily change. If you have a fever, it can easily be detected through the mouth. Just look at the tongue and one can easily tell if you are feeling okay or not.
- Painful bumps on baby’s tongue – Babies can suffer from itchy tongue too. It could be associated with oral problems, but a small bump on the tongue could be a papillae or an inflamed taste bud secondary to bite or taking in hot food. The condition usually resolves on its own. To alleviate the pain, you can give mild analgesic. (5)
- Itchy tongue during pregnancy – Pregnant women usually complain of itchy tongue. Well, there are reasons why you could be suffering from such conditions. It could be associated with allergy, oral thrush, or hormonal change. In fact, changes in the hormone is common in pregnant women. It could make their lips swollen and their tongue itchy. (8, 9, 10)
How to get rid of an itchy tongue?
What is the best way to treat an itchy tongue? Well, the answer depends on the underlying cause. It could be treated using medications, radiation therapy, or even surgery.
As a matter of fact, sometimes no treatment is necessary as the itching and burning sensation resolves on its own. Let us take a look at what you can do to somehow manage itchy tongue.
- Take anti-allergy medication if the cause of tongue itching is allergic reaction to foods or medications.
An antibacterial medication should be given to the patient if the cause of tongue itching is bacterial infection. There are many types of antibacterial drugs and the doctor can prescribe the best drug for your condition.
- If itching of the tongue is linked with yeast infection, an antifungal drug is used.
- It is important to keep the mouth and tongue clean at all times. The patient is strongly advised to gargle an antiseptic mouthwash regularly to reduce the inflammation.
- Do not eat foods that can further aggravate the condition such as eating hot and spicy foods. If you don’t have mouthwash, the best alternative is salt water. It will help reduce the risk of infection and hastens the healing process.
- A milk of magnesia is also helpful in speeding up the healing time.
Increase your intake of iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12. (4, 7, 9, 10)