Blisters on the tongue can be caused by such benign conditions as canker sores to more severe conditions, such as oral cancer. Regardless of the severity, having a tongue blister can make the everyday tasks of chewing and talking painful.
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Aphthous stomatitis (canker sores) is an inflammation of the mouth. This inflammation causes small ulcers or blisters to form on the tongue and inside the mouth. Canker sores are usually benign and are not contagious.
The taste buds (papillae) can become inflamed and develop small, painful bumps on the tongue. This inflammation is usually due to an injury or burn, such as a self-inflicted bite or eating hot foods. Inflamed papillae usually heal on their own without any treatment.
Herpetic stomatitis (fever blisters) is a fluid-filled blister that appears on the lips, palate and tongue. These blisters originate from the herpes simplex virus that lies dormant in the body until a factor from the outside exacerbates the condition, such as stress, injury or excessive sunlight exposure. Fever blisters are very painful and can be contagious.
Oral leukoplakia is characterised by white patches that form on the inside of the cheeks, gums and tongue. These white patches are usually the result of chronic tobacco or alcohol use. In some cases, oral leukoplakia can be a precancerous condition.
Oral cancer can appear as white patches (leukoplakia), red lumps or tumours on the side of the tongue. Other symptoms, such as mouth pain, neck pain, facial numbness, hoarseness or dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) can occur. Treatment for oral cancer may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery to remove the tumour.
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