Enlarged Papillae

What Is Enlarged Papillae?

Enlarged Papillae is a condition where the papillae on the tongue become swollen or bigger than normal. It is common and in most occasions not very serious. Although it is not serious, it is a very irritating ad painful condition.

Enlarged Papillae Causes

The tongue is a small but very essential organ in the body. It is responsible for the sense of taste. It also has temperature sensors, it helps in making speech and with pushing food down the throat. The tongue’s rough texture that helps us eat is a result of the presence of tiny bumps called papillae.

Types of Papillae on Tongue

There are 4 different types of papillae on the tongue, and all perform different functions. They include;

Fungiform papillae

These are called fungiform papillae not because they are fungi related but just because they are mushroom shaped. Present on the sides of the tongue and scattered on the top. Responsible for sweet and sour tastes of food ingested.

Filiform papillae

Filiform papillae are v shaped, long and thin. They are the most numerous papillae on the tongue. Cause the abrasive coating of the tongue and responsible for detecting sour tastes.

Circumvallate papillae

These papillae are v shaped and detect bitter tastes. They are the fewest in number with most people having 10-14. Found at the back of the tongue.

Foliate papillae

Found at the sides of the tongue, foliate papillae have elongated folds and are clustered in two groups. They detect salty taste in food.



Most known cause of enlarged papillae. Aside from major health detriments like cancer, discoloration of fingers and toes and death, smoking causes irritation of the tongue which results in enlarged papillae as one of the minor effects.

Lie bumps

Also known as transient lingual papillitis. This is a local inflammatory disorder that causes swelling of fungiform papillae on the tongue’s dorsal area.

Canker sores

Also known as mouth ulcers, it is a major cause of enlarged papillae. Mouth ulcers may be hereditary or as a result of viral infections. Thrush helps promote growth of various bacteria and viruses. Mouth ulcers result in painful sores in the mouth.


High stress levels is bad for any human being. In serious cases it can lead to high blood pressure and even stroke. Stress is also a contributing factor when it comes to enlarged papillae. It worsens canker sores and makes the whole experience more painful.

Tongue irritation

Infections or tongue irritation also cause enlarged papillae. Tongue biting, eating extremely spicy foods, extremely salty foods, acidic foods, too much caffeine and even foods that are too hot can contribute to enlarged papillae.

Gastrointestinal issues

GERD or ulcerative colitis present in the digestion tract cause enlarged papillae.

Oral cancer

Enlarged papillae is one if the symptoms of an oral cancer patient.

Other minor causes

Minor causes of enlarged papillae include sexually transmitted infections like herpes and HPV, allergies and even tongue piercings which are very popular nowadays with the young generation.

Enlarged Papillae Symptoms


Symptoms of enlarged papillae are very easy to note. They include irritation and pain. The presence of white reddish bumps on the tongue is also a symptom. Most patients also tend to feel a burning or tingling sensation on the tongue.


Finding the cause of enlarged papillae may help determine the right treatment option. It is important for patients with this condition to try managing additional symptoms that may prevail. Most cases of enlarged papillae will clear on their own including transient lingual papillitis.

Owing to the fact that it is not a very serious condition, it can be treated from the comfort of one’s home. Patients with severe cases or whose conditions prolong over two weeks should seek medical advice from a doctor.

Medical treatment

Using chemotherapy, radiation or surgery where the cause is determined to be oral cancer. Over the counter medications including creams and pills may be used to treat canker sores. Topical antifungal medications and oral antifungal medications may be used where severe forms of oral thrush and fungal infections are cited as the cause of the enlarged papillae.

The treatment options are many, however, a patient needs to discuss with the doctor do determine, which treatment works best for them. If home remedies you are applying are not relieving the symptoms of enlarged papillae, ensure you go for thorough medical checkup.

Sometimes, enlarged papillae could be a symptom for a more serious health condition such as oral cancer. A doctor will perform tests to rule out the development of cancer and ensure you get the right treatment.

Home Remedies

Dairy products

Taking yogurt or low fat dairy products soothes the enlarged papillae. It contains probiotics that introduce healthy bacteria, restore balance, relieve symptoms and improve gastrointestinal flora. Lactose intolerant people can take probiotic pills.

Avoid spicy foods

Extremely spicy foods cause tongue irritation. Minimize or cut them off your diet.

Stop smoking

Patients should stop smoking immediately. In cases of extreme addiction, electric cigarettes which are said to be less invasive. Stopping smoking also has numerous health benefits.

Salt water

Gaggling salty Luke warm water kills bacteria causing enlarged papillae and relieve symptoms. Do this twice daily.

Good oral hygiene

Proper oral hygiene ensures bacteria does not accumulate on the tongue. Brush teeth twice in a day, remember to floss and also scrape or brush the tongue.

Increase vitamin B12 intake

Deficiency of vitamin B 12 causes sores and enlarged papillae, lack of energy and lack of concentration.

Iron intake

Iron supplements or food rich in iron such as dates, spinach and prunes help reduce pain and irritation caused by enlarged papillae.

Ice cubes

Placing ice cubes on the sores or drinking cold liquids soothes the condition.

Stress management

Stress is considered a major cause of sores on your tongue. You need to get adequate sleep, eat a well balanced diet, and exercise the body. Meditation and yoga may also help relieve stress.

Enlarged Papillae Picture

Specific foods

Foods with vinegar, tea tree oil, sesame oil, garlic ginger pepper soup and chicken noodle soup are also said to be great relievers of enlarged papillae.


References List

  1. http://doctordecides.com/enlarged-papillae/
  2. https://www.nlda.org/painful-and-enlarged-papillae-on-tongue-causes-and-treatment/
  3. http://answers.webmd.com/answers/5076135/enlarged-papillae

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