Transient lingual papillitis is a condition of the body known as lie bumps. These are small bumps with red or white color which grow on the tongue.

They are painful bumps that appear frequently but resolve independently without medical intervention – may appear as small pimples on the tongue.

Our tongue is covered densely with papillae. Transient lingual papillitis is a very painful inflammatory condition that affects the tongue’s fungiform papillae. It comes in the family of lingual papillitis and fungiform papillary glossitis – tongue inflammation.

Symptoms of Lie Bumps on Tongue

Transient lingual papillitis or lie bumps are characterized by white or red swollen pimple like bumps on the tongue. These pimples or bumps are very painful. Discomfort is common during talking, eating, or drinking.

Moreover, some people may feel a burning, tingling, or itchy sensation on that side of the tongue, which is manifested with transient lingual papillitis.

However, some may not experience any symptoms apart from the actual bump. The condition becomes contagious when these bumps are caused because of a virus. We will discuss that in the latter paragraphs.

Susceptible groups of Transient Lingual Papillitis

Mostly, the classic type of transient lingual papillitis affects almost 50% of the entire population. This condition is prevalent amongst women, but all age brackets are susceptible to it. Eruptive lingual papillitis affects children along with their families. Mostly, it emerges during the spring season, but it does not mean that we can rule out other seasons.

Children are very much susceptible to the virus which causes lie bumps, it affects them as a child and in adulthood as well. One theory linked is that just like cold sore virus, the one which causes lingual papillitis is caught in the early years, causing recurrent episodes of bump development throughout life.

Fungiform papillary glossitis is seen amongst patients with eczema history or asthmatic patients. It is suggested that this condition is caused because of the environmental sensitivity of the tongue.

What Causes Transient Lingual Papillitis?

These bumps are a very common occurrence. However, more research is needed for full understanding of this subject. The exact causes of the lie bumps or transient lingual papillitis is not known, but some triggers are:

  • Foods that are very high in acidic content.
  • Consuming sugary items.
  • Reaching the stress threshold causes a subsequent inflammatory response.
  • Eatables high in spice content.
  • GI disturbances which include constipation.
  • Food allergies.
  • Local irritation or trauma to fungiform papilla.
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Virus
  • Cold sores – HPV or Herpes Simplex Virus
  • Mouth carcinoma
  • Burning of tongue

Clinical Features

There are 4 types of papillitis

This type presents as a single white or red raised pimple-like projection on the tongue. Usually, it grows near the tip but can grow anywhere. Classic transient lingual papillitis occurs and stays on for not more than 1 to 2 days and then resolves on its own. They may appear weeks, months, or even years later again.

The lymph nodes do not enlarge in this type. Mostly, the bump is single. Rarely does it appear in the form of bunches? These lesions may go away within a few hours or several days. Transient lingual papillitis comes with a couple of symptoms like burning or tingling; hardly does it appear without any.

Eruptive Lingual Papillitis
It is a systemic illness and usually has lymph node enlargement and fever. When a child has lingual papillitis growth, it does not eat properly and produces excess saliva. The fungiform papilla appears enlarged from the tongue’s tip and sides, but not from the top.

This condition lasts for about 1 week on average. Recurrence around 1 to 2 months, later on, in common with the same kind of symptoms. Eruptive lingual papillitis is contagious and spreads among family members and especially amongst siblings.

U-Shaped Transient Lingual Papillitis
The tongue swells up in this condition. Mostly, U-Shaped Transient Lingual Papillitis is seen in covid-19 patients.

Papulokeratotic form
It looks like multiple white bumps spread over the tongue. The affected individual has no other symptoms involved.


If the symptoms and presence of lie bumps have not subsided even after 1 week then it is time to schedule a checkup. These bumps are recurrent and constantly painful. Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician for a physical examination.

Your healthcare person will take a full history and jot down the potential triggering factors and then will go on to the next step.

Next, they will perform a physical examination of the bumps for making a diagnosis on that basis. If they are unsure and cannot confirm just by a physical, they will order a biopsy for making a differential diagnosis.

The practitioner will numb the tongue area using a local anesthetic to perform this. They will then remove a small piece or scrap of some tissue of the bump on your tongue to look deeper under the microscope. The biopsy shows swelling and inflammation of the tongue papillae.

Treatment Plan

People may use the following for relief:

  • Salt water Rinse ­– rinse the mouth with salt water solution. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities provide apt pain relief. Take a spoonful of salt and mix in half a glass of water. Swish and swirl the solution for 30 seconds, then spit. Repeat twice a day for max results.
  • Local anesthetic for numbing of the tongue
  • Brushing and flossing to reduce bacterial load.
  • Avoid irritants.
  • Cold liquid consumption
  • Use of yogurt, ice cream, ice, etc. for inflammation reduction.
  • Anesthetic mouthwashes
  • Topical Steroids.
  • For eruption cases, drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen may help get rid of inflammation and pain.

Prevention of Lie Bumps

There is no definite cause for the appearance of lie bumps that is why we do not have a sure shot prevention method. It is also believed that transient lingual papillitis is caused because of poor oral hygiene so managing a good regime is also one way to prevent its occurrence.


Transient Lingual Papillitis or TLP are bumps that appear on the tongue. There are multiple reasons for their emergence. In case the bumps do not go away within a week, contact your dentist at Pearl Shine Dental for a screening.