Updated on February 9, 2024
8 min read

What Causes Itchiness on the Roof of Your Mouth?

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Why is the Roof of My Mouth Itchy?

An itchy roof of the mouth is a common symptom with many causes, including allergies, viral or fungal infections, and colds. 

While mild itchiness on your palate (or the roof of your mouth) usually isn’t a reason for alarm, a severe allergic reaction will need immediate medical attention. Understanding the signs of each potential cause can help you decide how to take action.

How Do I Treat an Itchy Roof of Mouth?

Treatment for an itchy mouth depends on the cause and the severity. You may be able to relieve itchiness with OTC medications. If not, see a doctor for a prescription.

OTC Treatments

You can purchase over-the-counter treatments for mild allergies and the common cold at a local drugstore. 

Treatment options that can help relieve mouth itchiness include:

  • Antihistamines — The most common OTC medications for mild allergies are antihistamines like Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Claritin. Antihistamines block a substance called histamines, released by your body during allergic reactions.4
  • Decongestants — If you have a cold, you may be able to soothe an itchy mouth by taking decongestants, like Dayquil or Nyquil. A decongestant can help reduce your cold symptoms, including mouth itchiness.
  • Topical remedies — You can’t cure cold sores with a gel or cream, but you can reduce discomfort. Look for topical treatments that include numbing agents like menthol. 

Prescription Treatments

You may need to see a doctor for a prescription in some instances, such as with oral thrush. Options include:

  • Antifungal medications — Your doctor will prescribe you an antifungal medication if you have oral thrush. This treatment may be a topical agent, a lozenge, or a pill. In more severe cases, your doctor may give you an injection of fluconazole.5 
  • Antiviral medications — If you have severe or persistent cold sores, your doctor can prescribe an antiviral treatment to speed up healing. 
  • Epinephrine — With anaphylaxis, you may need an EpiPen that quickly fights this potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.6

Home Remedies

You can also try do-it-yourself remedies at home to relieve an itchy palate. These may be less effective, and the effects will last a shorter time.

Common home remedies for an itchy mouth include:

  • Saltwater gargle — Saltwater is a disinfectant that kills bacteria and helps your mouth heal. It can also help stop an infection from spreading and soothe itchy or sore areas in your mouth.
  • Honey — Honey coats your mouth and throat, relieving itchiness temporarily. You can eat a spoonful of it or mix it into hot tea.
  • Ice — Letting a cube of ice melt in your mouth can numb the itchy area. Be careful not to chew the ice, which can damage your teeth.
  • Herbal tea — Certain herbs provide relief from itchiness. Chamomile, ginger, horseradish, and licorice teas are popular options for an itchy or sore throat.

With any illness, taking care of yourself is key to recovery. Get adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat nutritious meals, and follow any directions from your doctor.

Always stop using a home remedy if it worsens or causes new symptoms. Consult with your doctor if you’re uncertain about any at-home treatments.

When Should I Seek Medical Help for an Itchy Roof of Mouth?

Generally, an itchy mouth isn’t cause for alarm. However, you should seek emergency medical care if your mouth itches and you have the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Closing of the throat
  • Hives
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • Fainting or dizziness

Symptoms like these could indicate a severe allergic reaction, which needs immediate treatment. If you have a severe allergy, you may need to always carry an EpiPen with you. 

You must schedule an appointment with your doctor if you suspect oral thrush, which can only be treated with a prescription. You should also see a doctor about food allergies, severe infections, or symptoms that don’t resolve within two weeks. 

6 Potential Reasons for an Itchy Mouth

Here are the most common reasons why the roof of your mouth might be itchy:

1. Food or Seasonal Allergies

Allergic reactions from food and hay fever (seasonal allergies) are the most common causes of an itchy palate. Other symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes

Seasonal allergies don’t usually require medical attention. You can try over-the-counter (OTC) medications for your symptoms, which typically occur yearly. 

Food allergies can be more severe and typically occur after eating a meal or a snack. You might experience these symptoms along with an itchy mouth:

  • Itchy red rashes
  • Facial or lip swelling
  • A sensation of the throat closing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention. They could indicate anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

2. Cold Sores

Cold sores are blisters that form in and around the mouth. The herpes simplex virus causes them. They’re not usually a cause for concern, though they can be uncomfortable.

Cold sores can be dormant for a long time. When they flare up, they usually only last for around two weeks.2 

If you have a cold sore flare-up, you may notice:

Cold sores typically go away on their own. They have no cure, but specific treatments can help relieve symptoms.

3. Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a common fungal infection that can make the roof of your mouth itch. The Candida fungus causes a yeast infection, which may be contagious. 

If you have oral thrush, you may have symptoms like:

  • White patches in the mouth
  • Absence of taste or unpleasant taste
  • Burning, redness, or itchiness in the mouth
  • Cracked and dry lips

Oral thrush is easy to treat with antifungal medications. If you show signs of developing oral thrush, visit your doctor immediately. 

Left untreated, a yeast infection can spread to other parts of your body and cause more severe side effects.3

4. Cold

The common cold can produce many symptoms similar to mild allergies, such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffed-up or runny nose
  • Itchy palate
  • Sore throat and coughing
  • Fever
  • General body aches

A cold might be the culprit for your itchy palate, especially if you have the other symptoms listed above. Colds typically last a week or two and go away on their own. 

You generally won’t have to seek medical attention for a cold. While you can’t cure a cold, you can take over-the-counter medications to ease your symptoms.

5. Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is a contact allergic reaction when eating raw fruits or vegetables. It’s sometimes called pollen food allergy syndrome.

Some people develop OAS when their immune system confuses pollen with the proteins in fruits and vegetables.1 The body reacts to raw fruits or vegetables like it would to pollen.

Symptoms of OAS typically appear immediately after eating, though in rarer cases, symptoms can emerge up to an hour later. They include:

  • Itchy mouth
  • Swelling in the mouth, face, lips, and throat

It’s rare for OAS to cause difficulty breathing. However, it’s essential to see a doctor if this occurs. You should also visit a doctor if your symptoms worsen or develop after you eat cooked fruits and vegetables.

There’s currently no treatment for oral allergy syndrome. You can take OTC antihistamines, but the symptoms usually resolve before the medication can take effect. 

6. Cancer Medications

Some medications used in cancer treatment can cause an itchy mouth as a side effect. These drugs can cause dry mouth or inflammation of the oral mucous membranes, which can result in itchiness.

Cancer medications that cause an itchy mouth include Afinitor, Gilotrif, and Nexavar. Tell your doctor if you develop itchiness after taking any medication, as it could indicate a drug allergy.

What Causes Bumps and Itchiness on the Roof of the Mouth?

In some cases, you may notice bumps on the roof of your mouth in tandem with an itchy sensation. Bumps can be an additional symptom of the following causes of an itchy mouth:

  • Cold sores — The herpes virus can cause sores to develop on your lips and inside of the mouth, including the roof of your mouth.
  • Fungal infection — Oral thrush causes itchiness and may create red or white bumps inside your mouth.
  • Allergic reactions — Bumps may form in the case of certain allergic reactions, such as pollen, food, or drug allergies.
  • Burns — A burn inside your mouth may cause bumps on the palate. You might also feel some itchiness as it heals.

Consult a doctor if the bumps on the roof of your mouth persist for longer than two weeks or worsen.

How Can I Prevent an Itchy Roof of Mouth?

You may be able to prevent the roof of your mouth from itching, depending on the cause. 

Try these tips to prevent an itchy mouth:

  • Avoid direct contact with allergens, such as pollen, animals, and foods
  • Take daily, over-the-counter (OTC) medications for allergies
  • Eat only cooked fruits and vegetables (for oral allergy syndrome)
  • Follow your doctor’s guidance about recurring infections, such as thrush and/or cold sores
  • Practice good oral hygiene daily
  • Talk to your doctor about any medication side effects

Summary

The roof of your mouth may be itchy because of seasonal or food allergies, oral allergy syndrome, colds, cold sores, or oral thrush. It’s a common symptom that isn’t usually a cause for concern.

Treatment for an itchy mouth depends on the cause. You can treat some mild allergies with over-the-counter antihistamines. 

You can also relieve temporary itchiness with at-home remedies such as saltwater rinses and honey. Other conditions, such as oral thrush, require a prescription. 

Seek medical attention if you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling in the throat and difficulty breathing. If the itchiness persists and occurs with other symptoms, consult a doctor.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS).” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2023.
  2. Cold Sores.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, 2023.
  3. Oral thrush in adults.” NHS Inform, NHS, 2023.
  4. Antihistamines.” NHS, 2023.
  5. Candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services, 2021.
  6. Epinephrine Auto-injector.” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2023.
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