Hard, Big, Painful, Small or White Lump Under Tongue: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment.

A lump under the tongue can appear on the tongue itself or on the soft lining of the mouth under the tongue. Such a lump can be hard, big, painful, red or white and so on. It mostly depends on what is causing it.

Infections, diseases, tumors and trauma are the common causes of lumps under the tongue. Rarely will malignant tumors develop under the tongue.

Although most tumors under the tongue will heal on their own, they can be quite uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Medical treatment usually seeks to ease pain and speed up recovery.

Painful lump under tongue

A painful lump under the tongue can be caused by:

Injuries and trauma

The tongue is connected to the base of mouth by a skin fold known as lingual frenulum. It is a very soft skin fold and thus easily irritated or injured. Since the tongue serves the task of rolling food particles in the mouth, small injuries can occur under the tongue and cause painful small lumps.

Canker sores

Canker sores appear as red, painful, small lumps inside the mouth, including under the tongue. They are commonly caused by a virus but can also appear due to mouth injuries, stress and other forms of trauma. The distinctive characteristic of canker sores is the formation of a white or yellow spot at the center.

Cold sores

Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. They appear as small blisters filled with fluid, mostly on the lips and inside the mouth but can also form under the tongue. Note that you can have herpes sores solely around the mouth and not in the genital region.

Transient lingual papillitis (lie bumps)

The surface of your tongue has small bumps known as papillae. They occur in larger numbers on the top side as compared to lower side of the tongue. Sometimes, the papillae can swell to form an irritating, painful, red or white bump. Acidic and hot foods or drinks are the main causes of transient lingual papillitis.

Irritants and allergens

The mucous membrane on the lower side of the tongue is thinner compared to the upper side. This makes it more sensitive to irritants and allergens. Bumps caused by irritation form almost immediately after contact. Bumps due to an allergic reaction may take some time to appear.

Salivary gland disorders

A healthy person has three major salivary glands. The parotid gland, submandibular gland and sublingual gland. Disorders such as salivary duct stones, sialadentis (infection of salivary gland) or cysts can lead to formation of a lump under the tongue. Adenomas can also develop on the glandular tissues of these glands.

As well as herpes, syphilis is another STD that may cause a sore lump under the tongue. This is not common, however. Syphilis sores are usually sole and painless.

Small white lump under tongue

Below are some common causes of a small white lump under the tongue:

Oral lichen planus

This is a fungal infection that causes inflammation on or under the tongue. The inflammation is accompanied by white spots. Risk factors include hepatitis, high blood pressure and biting your tongue or cheeks.

Canker sores

As mentioned earlier, canker sores form small lumps with white or yellow centers. It is unlikely that canker sores will only appear on or under the tongue.


A mucocele is a harmless cystic growth. It occurs when saliva leaks from a damaged salivary gland and collects to form a sac-like, small white lump under the tongue. Mucocele cysts are sometimes painful.

Swollen papillae

The papillae under your tongue can also form white swollen lumps. These lumps are usually painful and very irritating.

Hard lump under tongue


Cysts sometimes form hard lumps. Symptoms of a hard lump in the female groin can for example be caused by a sebaceous cyst.  Under the tongue, salivary gland ducts can get blocked to form cystic lumps. A mucocele can also form a hard cystic lump.

Salivary gland stones

Salivary gland stones develop when minerals crystallize inside the ducts that deliver saliva into the mouth from salivary glands. This leads to formation of a hard lump under the tongue.


Exostosis defines the formation of extra bone on the lower jaw, which then pushes into the floor of mouth under tongue. It causes a hard painless lump. The lump can however sustain injuries and become painful. Exostosis is a bit different from a lump in stomach above the belly button caused by a hernia.


Hard painless lumps in the mouth and under the tongue can be cancerous. They may be caused by cancer of the mouth or salivary glands. Cancer cells have a tendency of invading other body tissues and organs. For this reason, a cancerous lump under the tongue can accompany lump in lung symptoms, for example.

Big lump under tongue

It is not common for a big lump under the tongue to form. Such a lump can be caused by an allergic reaction, where a large portion of tongue will get inflamed.

Tumors that keep growing in size can also be responsible for a big lump under the tongue. You should have such a lump checked by your doctor. In any case, a big lump anywhere in the mouth will cause many problems, especially when eating.

Treatment for lump under tongue

Most lumps under the tongue will heal on their own. If the lumps are to become painful or show signs of infection and malignancy, medical help should be sought. Your doctor will perform a physical exam. Additional tests may be performed to confirm diagnosis.

Infections are treated with antiviral medications or antibiotics. Since most lumps due to infections are painful, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers.

Salivary stones, tumors and cystic lumps can be removed surgically. Surgical removal is usually very effective. For example, cysts that have not been removed surgically tend to recur. A hard lump behind the knee caused by a Baker’s cyst is a good example. Cancerous lumps can also be removed through laser treatment.

Make sure to report to your doctor any signs or symptoms that you may have experienced. This is especially if the symptoms started around the same time that the lump appeared.

How to treat lumps under tongue at home

Lumps under the tongue are quite common. Some will appear for a day or two and disappear, only to recur some time in the future. Luckily, you can deal with such bumps at home in the following ways:

  • Maintain high standards of oral hygiene. Harmful bacteria in mouth feed on food particles, especially sugar. Cleaning your teeth and mouth will discourage bacterial infections in mouth. Also, avoid habits such as smoking, unprotected sex and consuming acidic or hot food products.
  • Coat swollen or infected lumps with fresh gel from aloe Vera leaves. Rinse with clean water after about 10 minutes. Aloe Vera fights bacteria and soothes painful sores.
  • Apply raw honey directly to the affected part of the tongue. Let it stay for about 5 minutes. You can rinse or swallow the honey thereafter. This treatment is very effective for lumps caused by hot or acidic foods.
  • Swish a solution of warm water and salt in your mouth for about 60 seconds. Salt water reduces Inflammation and may ease pain.
  • Apply a paste made from turmeric and milk to the lumps on your tongue. Rinse with clean water after about 5 minutes. Turmeric is a strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory remedy.

These home removal remedies will not work on bumps caused by tumors, salivary gland stones and cysts. They also will not cure an infection such as herpes.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if:

  • You have painful swollen lumps under your tongue that are intolerable
  • The lump or lumps are not responding to home treatments
  • You have difficulty speaking or chewing
  • You notice symptoms of infection such as fever, pus and swollen lymph nodes
  • The lumps have no explainable cause
  • Sores or open wounds form on the lumps
  • A lump on the inner thigh under skin or around the genital region forms
  • Lumps keep growing in size, changing shape or occur in other parts of the body.

Lumps are very common, both on skin and inside body. It is very important to know the probable cause of a lump on certain region of your body and treatment options available. The good thing is that there is much information related to lumps on the internet. The same can be said about self-diagnosis tools such as lumps under the tongue images and lump in the palm of the hand pictures.