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An itchy tongue can feel uncomfortable and even painful. While most itchy tongues are harmless and caused by common oral allergies, other causes behind an itchy tongue can be more serious.
Some people experience an itchy tongue for long periods, while others feel the sensation come and go. Understanding your symptoms can help you find the root cause and get relief fast.
There are several common reasons you may feel an itchy sensation on your tongue or in your mouth. These include:
Allergies can be a relatively harmless yet frustrating cause of oral itching. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also known as pollen food syndrome, is an allergic reaction to eating certain foods.
People with OAS experience an immune response when eating fresh or raw nuts, fruits, and vegetables. This response can be due to surface birch, alder, and ragweed pollen.
In some people, proteins found in nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are similar to allergy-causing proteins in pollen trigger an OAS response.
Similarly, airborne tree pollen and other seasonal allergies can cause oral allergy symptoms similar to that of OAS.
These tingly and itchy reactions are often limited to the lips, tongue, and throat.
Some allergic reactions can cause hives, rashes, bumps, and welts. A more severe allergic reaction could result in tongue and throat swelling.
Avoiding trigger foods can help you avoid OAS and an itchy tongue or mouth. In addition, antihistamines can help relieve symptoms of oral food allergies and seasonal allergies.
Experiencing a dry mouth occasionally is a familiar feeling to most people. However, you may have xerostomia if you deal with dry mouth chronically. Xerostomia is dry mouth that can be caused by:
When your mouth lacks lubricant due to xerostomia, it is possible to experience burning mouth syndrome, which can make your mouth feel scratchy or itchy.
Other common symptoms of xerostomia and dry mouth include:
Your dentist can help you manage xerostomia symptoms. In addition, sipping water frequently and chewing sugar-free gum to increase saliva production may help.
Oral thrush is a yeast infection common in infants and people with a weakened immune system. This fungal infection causes the overproduction of candida, a fungus that lives in our mouths. Candida infections are common and usually mild.
Oral thrush can cause dry or cracked skin in the corners of the mouth. In addition, thrush often produces a white coating on the tongue, which can lead to raw and burning of the tissue when disturbed.
Good hygiene is essential for eliminating oral thrush. For babies, ensure you clean their mouth and tongue properly between each feeding.
Professional medical advice or prescription probiotics or steroids may be necessary if your symptoms don’t reduce.
When your tongue is injured, it can feel incredibly tender and painful. Moreover, it’s common to feel itchy sensations around the damaged part of your tongue, similar to that experienced with paper cuts.
You may have an itchy mouth if you have an injury on your tongue. You may also experience bleeding, swelling, and throbbing. In severe cases, tongue trauma or injury may cause a fever.
Following standard first aid practices (pain medications, stitches, and antibiotics) can help when handling a tongue injury. Avoid spicy and hot foods while your tongue recovers.
A cold sore, caused by the herpes simplex virus, starts with a recognizable tingling sensation on the lips, mouth, or tongue before the blister begins to form. Cold sores are a strain of the herpes virus similar to chicken pox, which is highly contagious through skin-to-skin contact.
The tingling sensation from herpes can cause an itchy tongue or itchy mouth throughout the progression of the disease process.
Other cold sore symptoms include:
Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and creams can treat cold sore blisters. In addition, ice, aloe vera gel, vitamins such as lysine, tea tree oil, and other at-home remedies can quicken the healing process.
Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, are painful small bumps found on the inside walls of the mouth and the tongue. They are usually white or yellow and may have a red or pink border.
Like cold sores, canker sores tingle and burn a few days before the sores appear. Canker sores are common and harmless but can cause discomfort to the tongue or mouth.
Canker sores often go away independently without much intervention over a few days. However, gargling with lukewarm salt water may help them heal faster.
There are many natural ways to treat your itchy mouth and tongue from home:
If you experience difficulty breathing, develop hives or facial swelling, or your heart rate increases from your irritated tongue, seek medical attention ASAP. These symptoms could indicate a life-threatening condition.
Prevention is the best way to avoid an itchy mouth and tongue.
Eliminate certain foods from your diet that may be causing an allergic reaction. Also, keep up with your oral hygiene and clean your tongue with a tongue scraper. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes that can dry out your mouth and cause a burning sensation.
An itchy tongue can be frustrating if you're experiencing food allergies, oral thrush, a fungal infection, cold sores, dry mouth, or trauma. Although uncommon, a tingling and itchy tongue can sometimes be more severe and require medical attention.
At-home remedies, talking with a professional, and avoiding triggers can help heal your tongue quickly and prevent the condition from recurring.
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