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Little Pimple-Like Bumps on the Inside of the Mouth

by
author image Karen Lac
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Karen Lac has been writing since 1999. Her articles have appeared in “The Occidental Weekly.” Lac also works as a corporate concierge, helping clients with travel and event planning. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and a Bachelor of Arts in politics, both from Occidental College.
Little Pimple-Like Bumps on the Inside of the Mouth
Bumps inside your mouth can be canker sores, mucuous cysts, oral lichen planus or inflamed papillae. Photo Credit Piotr Marcinski/iStock/Getty Images

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

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

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.

Inflamed Papillae

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.

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