What are the symptoms of tongue infection?

What are the symptoms of tongue infection?


Tongue is a pink and muscular organ located in our mouth, assisting the process of chewing, swallowing and speech. The taste bud on our tongue is a sensory organ which allows us to taste sweet, salty, sour and bitter. A tongue disease might present symptoms of swelling, soreness, change in colour, change in texture of tongue and change in the sense of taste. Do make an appointment with a doctor if you have been experiencing some changes in your tongue. In this article, we will look into detail on the symptoms of different tongue infections.

Oral candidiasis

Oral candidiasis, also known as oral thrush is an infection that occurs in the mouth caused by fungal infection of Candida species. The condition brings on a raised creamy white lesion, mimicking a cottage cheese-like appearance which appears on the tongue, gums, roof of mouth, back of throat, tonsils and inner cheeks. Apart from that, one might also experience pain when eating or swallowing, a change of taste, redness of tongue and soreness.

An antifungal medication is used as a treatment for oral candidiasis, to be applied in the mouth for 7 to 14 days. Some cases might require oral medication or injection.

Oral herpes

Oral herpes is a contagious disease caused by Herpes Simplex Virus-1(HSV-1). Painful, fluid-filled blisters might be noted on the affected areas such as lips and the mouth which will crust during the healing process. Tingling or burning sensation might occur before the occurrence of blisters.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with viruses contained in saliva, sores or surfaces.

Oral herpes can be treated with antiviral medication taken orally.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is an infection caused by bacteria known as group A Streptococcus. It is a disease which commonly affects children of 5-15 years old.

A strawberry tongue is one of the signs of scarlet fever. It indicates a swollen, red with enlarged taste buds dotting the surface of the tongue. Illness usually starts with fever and sore throat. Patients might also experience headache, muscle ache, nausea, difficulty swallowing and swollen lymph nodes. A skin rash with sandpaper-like sensation might appear after the onset of fever. Skin peeling will occur after the rash fades.

Antibiotic treatment is needed to treat the condition. Complications such as the spread of infection to skin, lung and ear, heart disease, kidney disease, joint inflammation or collection of pus around tonsils can happen if no treatment is prescribed.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Treponema pallidum. If left untreated, the disease will progress in three stages. During the first stage of the disease, a painless sore known as chancre will appear in the tongue, lips, fingers or genital area. It starts with a raised red bump which eventually erodes into an ulcer.

Syphilis is a treatable disease with antibiotic treatment. It is important to receive early treatment to prevent the progression to the late stage.

Oral Human Papillomavirus(HPV) Infection

HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease. An oral HPV infection is transmitted via oral sex with partner infected with genital HPV or oral to oral contact with patients of HPV. It might infect the mouth and throat leading to mouth wart or oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) cancer. Warts are flesh-colored bumps that can be seen anywhere in the mouth such as the tongue, lips, back or roof of the mouth.

Warts are harmless and the body usually heals by itself.


A healthy tongue is pink with tiny nodules on top and bottom of your tongue. Open your mouth and take a look at your tongue as it can tell you a lot about your health status and the disease you might be having. Do visit your doctor if there are any changes in your tongue as mentioned above.

Clare Louise

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