Transient Lingual Papillitis, also known as lie bumps, is a common inflammation of the tongue. It affects the tongue’s mushroom-shaped fungiform papillae and is often considered an underdiagnosed condition by experts.
In other words, it affects the taste buds on the tongue’s surface. The affected papillae look red or white and can be painful.
The condition may last several days and disappear without medical intervention.
To be specific, as Dr. Eleni-Marina Kalogirou, Professor of Oral Medicine and Pathology at the University of Athens, said, the symptoms of lie bumps ‘typically resolve after a few hours or 1 to 4 days, while they may last for 1 to 3 weeks.’
According to a comprehensive study published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal in 2019, fungiform papillae can be identified as reddish dots on the tongue. Every person has about 200 of them, each carrying between 0–20 taste buds.
Transient Lingual Papillitis in Perspective
Transient Lingual Papillitis is a popular topic on the internet.
According to SEMrush, an SEO management platform, the topic commands nearly 100,000 searches per month only in the USA. The total search, including those of related keywords, amounts to over 350,000. (Data accessed on 27 November 2022)
That is a staggering number for a medical and pathological term few people know about.
In this article, we have gathered 14 curious and unquestionable facts about transient lingual papillitis by researching peer-reviewed publications, reliable medical sources, and government agencies.
We are confident we have what it takes to give you an in-depth idea on this topic.
Let’s dive in.
14 Solid Facts About Transient Lingual Papillitis (According To Medical Experts)
1. Transient Lingual Papillitis: Its Origin
It was in 1996 when Whitaker SB, Krupa JJ 3rd, and Singh BB, three researchers, introduced Transient Lingual Papillitis as a medical research term.
They surveyed several subjects with bumps on their tongues and documented their findings to write their amazing paper.
Their paper found a place in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Oral Radiology, a medical journal, in October 1996.
“We suggest the term ‘”‘transient lingual papillitis’ to describe this process,” they wrote at the end of their abstract.
The journal is well-respected within academia. It is the official publication of the following organizations:
- American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
- American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- American Academy of Oral Medicine
- American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Also Read: Combination Syndrome: 10 Solid Facts
2. Transient Lingual Papillitis: Its Many Names
The condition Transient Lingual Papillitis has many names, such as the following:
- Lingual fungiform papillae hypertrophy
- Fungiform papillary glossitis
- Photocopier’s papillitis
- Eruptive lingual papillitis
- Eruptive familial lingual papillitis
- Eruptive lingual papillitis with household transmission
Not to mention lie bumps or liar’s bumps.
3. 18 Main Causes of Transient Lingual Papillitis or Bumps on the Tongue
Although Transient Lingual Papillitis is a common condition, medical researchers are not sure what causes it.
However, the following have been connected to it as possible causes:
- Acute mouth trauma
- Irritation of the tongue by sharp-edged teeth, dental appliances, or excessive tartar formation on the front teeth
- Extreme stress
- Tongue-thrust habit
- Poor nutrition
- Respiratory infection
- Airborne toxins (thus photocopier’s papillitis)
- Loss of papillae on the tongue, what is called a geographic tongue. Also called migratory glossitis.
- Heat-related injury
- Uncontrolled smoking or drinking
- Consumption of spicy or acidic food
- Food allergy
- Allergy to mouthwash or toothpaste
- Hormonal changes due to menstruation or menopause
- Virus-related infection
- Angular cheilitis, or a skin condition affecting your mouth
- Transmission from an affected person
In one case, a patient with lie bumps reported having tonsilitis.
4. 8 Major Symptoms of Transient Lingual Papillitis
If you have lie bumps, you may notice the following, in combination or individually:
- The bumps on your tongue may look whitish to yellow
- Your tongue may be painful and feel irritated
- Your mouth does not produce enough saliva
- You have dysgeusia or taste disorder
- You may have a burning, tingling, or itchy sensation on your tongue
- The tongue may be sensitive to hot or spicy food
- Difficulty in eating is a common symptom
- Swelling of the tongue and fever are occasional
5. Lie bumps can be infections
According to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2004, lie bumps could be infectious.
O Roux and J P Lacour, authors of the study, concluded that lie bumps may spread to one or several family members.
They observed 38 children (21 girls and 17 boys) for a year and found that in 53% of cases, eruptive lingual papillitis has spread to one or several family members. The symptoms appeared suddenly and reappeared in 13% of children.
6. Classic Transient Lingual Papillitis
This is the most common type of lie bump you can find. About 50% of people get them at least once in their lifetime.
These bumps occupy a small area of the tongue, usually at its tip, and disappear within hours or days without medical intervention.
They can reappear, however, after years, if not before.
7. The Papulokeratotic Variant
Transient Lingual Papillitis, or TLP, has no long-term variant that continues for years. But it has a papulokeratotic variant, which can persist for several weeks or months.
The variant can recur multiple times in a person. It can be painless.
If you have the papulokeratotic variant, you will see white bumps on your tongue.
However, a study published in 2003 noted that the bumps could be florid or tinged with red.
8. Chronic Lingual Papulosis (CLP)
Chronic Lingual Papulosis (CLP) has been described as a new and independent form of transient lingual papillitis.
This form was not reported until 2012, when three doctors, Dr. Bouquot, Dr. Adibi, and Dr. Sanchez of the University of Texas, wrote a paper for the Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology research journal.
The doctors presented 9 cases of chronic lingual papulosis to document their findings. Patients included men and women ranging between 31 and 62 years of age.
They concluded the following:
- Chronic lingual papulosis is not biologically harmful
- It is relatively common, although not common as the classic variant
- A biopsy may not be required to diagnose this condition
- It does not require any treatment
- It can occur due to an irritation of the tongue
- None of the nine patients had painful transient lingual papillitis before chronic lingual papulosis.
9. Eruptive Lingual Papillitis
Dermatology Reports published a research paper entitled ‘Non-painful severe variant form of eruptive lingual papillitis: A case report and literature review’ as recently as 2021.
The author of the paper, Dr. Manal Ahmed Halwani of King Abdulaziz University, treated a 6-year-old female patient who had bums all over her tongue. Her mouth secreted lots of salivae.
80% of the bumps disappeared within seven days, while the rest disappeared within the following three months.
Dr. Halwani noted the following:
- The bumps can appear suddenly
- The bumps appear on the front part of the tongue
- Your mouth may produce excessive saliva if you get eruptive lingual papillitis
- You may or may not have a fever
- Eruptive lingual papillitis can be painless
10. Transient Lingual Papillitis and the Kawasaki Syndrome
Kawasaki syndrome may appear in children under 5. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease was first documented in Japan by Tomisaku Kawasaki in 1967. Its first case outside of Japan was reported in Hawaii in 1976.
Clinical signs of this disease include fever, swelling of the hands and feet, eye irritation, swollen neck, and inflammation of the mouth, lips, and throat.
This disease has been connected to Transient Lingual Papillitis by researchers in 2014.
In the November/December 2014 issue of Pediatric Dermatology, Dr. Andrew C. Krakowski, Dr. Silvia S. Kim, and Dr. Jane C. Burns published their paper entitled ‘Transient Lingual Papillitis Associated with Confirmed Herpes Simplex Virus 1 in a Patient with Kawasaki Disease.’
The authors note that their patient developed Transient Lingual Papillitis after receiving antibody treatment.
Point to note: Kawasaki disease requires prompt medical intervention, while Transient Lingual Papillitis does not.
11. Lie Bumps are Most Common in Women than Men
Although transient lingual papillitis does not have a long history, medical researchers have noted that it appears more commonly in women than in men.
This has been referred to in a journal article published in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Oral Radiology in 2014.
This is because of the hormonal fluctuations women undergo at different times.
12. Allergic to Fish? You May Get Transient Lingual Papillitis
Although food allergy has been stated as a possible cause for transient lingual papillitis above, we wanted to mention fish allergy separately.
In their research paper ‘Painful tongue lesions associated with a food allergy,’ Dr. Catherine M. Flaitz and Dr. Carmen Chavarria describe how they treated an overweight 7-year-old Hispanic boy with a swollen and painful tongue in an emergency room.
They identified fish allergy as the root cause of the tongue bumps and advised the boy’s mother to eliminate all types of fish from the boy’s diet. Since then, the boy had not experienced bumps on the tongue.
13. According to Dermatology Online
Three doctors at the Department of Medicine of Scripps Clinic/Scripps Green Hospital identified hard candy Atomic Fireball to trigger transient lingual papillitis in a 27-year-old woman.
Dr. Kehinde Raji, Dr. Jennifer Ranario, and Dr. Kehinde Ogunmakin describe in detail how the removal of the specific hard candy from the woman’s menu stopped the recurrence of lie bumps on her tongue.
Their paper, ‘Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire: A case of transient lingual papillitis following consumption of an Atomic Fireball,’ was published in Dermatology Online Journal in 2016.
The two main ingredients of the Atomic Fireball candy were:
14. 17 Ways to Treat Transient Lingual Papillitis (Lie-Bumps)
Transient Lingual Papillitis or Lie-Bumps do not require a biopsy for diagnosis or medical treatment. However, our study of the selected medical literature available on this topic in the National Library of Medicine suggests that the condition can be well-managed by following the instructions given below:
- Do not irritate your tongue
- If you have a sharp tooth hurting your tongue, see a dentist
- Consult your dentist if your dental appliances do not fit well
- Avoid spicy food
- Avoid acidic food
- Use an oral moisturizing product if your mouth is dry
- Maintain good oral hygiene
- Rinse your mouth with salt water or saline mouthwash
- Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash
- Avoid consuming food items you are allergic to
- Eat cold foods and consume cold fluids
- Avoid consuming chewing gums or candies
If your bumps are painful, your doctor may recommend the following:
- Topical corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Coating agents
- Local anesthetics
- Triamcinolone acetonide 0.1% dental paste
- Combination of antihistamines with aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide
In case of a reappearance of the list bump condition, your doctor will investigate what triggers it.
Point to Remember: Paracetamol or ibuprofen does not affect the duration and intensity of lie bump symptoms.
More from SupreDent:
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Eleni-Marina Kalogirou, et al. Transient lingual papillitis: A retrospective study of 11 cases and review of the literature. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry. 2017 Jan; 9(1): e157–e162.
Asim M. Khan, et al. Impact of Fungiform Papillae Count on Taste Perception and Different Methods of Taste Assessment and their Clinical Applications. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal. 2019 Aug; 19(3): e184–e191.
S B Whitaker, et al. Transient Lingual Papillitis. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Oral Radiology. 1996 Oct;82(4):441-5.
O Roux, et al. Eruptive lingual papillitis with household transmission: a prospective clinical study. The British Journal of Dermatology. 2004 Feb;150(2):299-303.
Jerry E. Bouquot, DDS, MSD, FICD, FACD, et al. Chronic lingual papulosis: new, independent entity or “mature” form of transient lingual papillitis? Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Oral Radiology 2012 Jan;113(1):111-7.
Robert B Brannon, et al. Transient lingual papillitis: a papulokeratotic variant. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Oral Radiology. 2003 Aug;96(2):187-91.
Manal Ahmed Halwani. Non-painful severe variant form of eruptive lingual papillitis: A case report and literature review. Dermatology Reports. 2021 Aug 1; 13(2): 9020.
Andrew C Krakowski, et al. Transient Lingual Papillitis Associated with Confirmed Herpes Simplex Virus 1 in a Patient with Kawasaki Disease. Pediatric Dermatology. Volume 31, Issue 6 November/December 2014. Pages e124-e125.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Kawasaki Disease. Accessed on 30 November 2022.
Catherine M. Flaitz, et al. Painful tongue lesions associated with a food allergy. Pediatric Dentistry. 23:6, 2001.
Kehinde Raji, et al. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire: A case of transient lingual papillitis following consumption of an Atomic Fireball. Dermatol Online Journal. 2016 May 15;22(5):13030.