Small, pimple-like bumps inside your mouth can be caused by multiple conditions, such as canker sores, mucous cysts, oral lichen planus and inflamed papillae. These conditions usually resolve on their own, but certain medications can relieve some of the accompanying pain and discomfort. See a doctor for an accurate diagnosis if you have pimple-like bumps in your mouth.
Canker sores are ulcers that usually appear on the base of your gums, tongue, the roof of your mouth and the inner surface of your lips and cheeks. Canker sores start as painful, red bumps, then develop into open ulcers with a yellow or white middle. The areas around canker sores are bright red. While the exact cause of canker sores are not known, they are thought to be triggered by hormonal changes, food allergies, menstrual periods, stress and poor diet. Injuries to the mouth tissue, such as from dental work and cheek biting, can also cause canker sores. These ulcers typically heal on their own, however topical medications such as benzocaine (Anbesol) may decrease your pain as they heal. Rinsing your mouth with a mild mouth wash or salt water and avoiding spicy foods may also decrease pain.
Mucous cysts usually appear on the lips' inner surface. Less commonly they affect the inside of the cheeks, roof or floor of the mouth and the tongue. Mucous cysts are painless, thin, fluid-filled sacs. These cysts can be caused by damage to a salivary duct, such as trauma caused by sucking your lips between your teeth. Trauma from lip and mouth piercings may also cause mucous cysts to form. These cysts may rupture and drain on their own, however more frequently surgery is required to remove the cyst.
Oral Lichen Planus
Oral lichen planus is an inflammatory condition affecting mucous membranes in your mouth. This inflammation causes raised bumps or lines on the sides of your tongue and inside of your cheeks. You may also have red, open sores in those areas. Triggers of oral lichen planus may include liver disease, hepatitis C infection, certain medications and vaccines and allergies. Drug treatments for oral lichen planus include corticosteroids, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, and antibacterial agents. These bumps may also be treated with light and laser treatments.
Little pimple-like bumps on your tongue may be inflamed papillae, This inflammation can be caused by injury, such as biting your tongue or burning it with hot food. This condition typically heals on its own, however medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may decrease pain caused by inflamed papillae.
- Advances in Dermatology and Allergology: Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis -- Genetic Aspects of Etiology
- University of Mary Washington: Aphthous Ulcers
- BMC: Mucus Extravasation and Retention Phenomena -- A 24-Year Study
- Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology: Oral Lichen Planus -- An Update on Pathogenesis and Treatment