Itchy Tongue

Why is my tongue numb and itchy? There could be underlying reasons why the tongue sometimes feel itchy and numb.

If you visit your doctor for a regular check-up, you sometimes notice that the doctor will thoroughly check the tongue. The general health of the tongue has something to do with your overall health.

The tongue is an essential part of the human body. It is a complex muscle, which helps us chew and taste food. It has several receptors or taste buds and they are spread throughout the surface of the tongue. The tongue is one of the affected tissues in the oral cavity that can be easily affected by pathologies. An itchy tongue is one of the common problems experienced by many of us. (1, 2,3)

What causes an itchy tongue?

  1. Allergic reaction – Did you experience itchy tongue after eating? Are you wondering why does your tongue get itchy when you eat pineapple? It could be an allergic reaction or also known as oral allergy syndrome. A study revealed that proteins found in some vegetables and fruits may cause allergy such as plums, pineapples, cucumbers, kiwis, and nectarines. Other foods that may contribute to itchiness of the tongue are nuts, egg, shellfish, soy, and fish.
  2. Contact dermatitis – If the tissues of the tongue get in contact with irritating substance, you could suffer from itchy and inflamed tongue. Contact dermatitis can be caused by product that contains strong ingredients such as toothpaste, cosmetics, and side effects of medications.
  3. Itchy tongue associated with diabetes – A burning itchy tongue can be associated with diabetes. People with diabetes are at risk to getting fungal infection in the mouth. If itching in the tongue caused by diabetes is left untreated, it could lead to mouth and throat infection. You will find it extremely difficult to chew and swallow food. (2, 3,4)
  4. Itchy burning mouth and tongue secondary to oral thrust and mouth disease – A yeast infection or oral problems like ulcer can cause pain and discomfort in the tongue and mouth area. In fact, it can make your tongue itchy. If it is caused by a yeast infection, you will notice that your tongue appears to be yellow or white. If you have oral thrust, you will notice that your tongue is discoloured. You will also notice a metallic taste, more like nasty, bitter taste. If you are suffering from Aphthous mouth ulcer (canker sore), you will notice that your tongue feels itchy. It affects the mouth, specially the area under the tongue.
  5. Excessive intake of alcohol and heavy smoking of tobacco – Itchy tongue and roof of mouth can be associated with excessive intake of alcoholic beverages and heavy smoking. Smoking in the long run could make your tongue sore. It causes oral ulcer and even cancer of the mouth.
  6. Oral cancer – Swollen itchy tongue is one of the clinical manifestations of oral cancer. Of course, other factors need to be considered. However, oral cancer is more likely to occur in people who smokes tobacco for a long period of time as well as to excessive alcohol drinker.
  7. HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) – Itchy swollen tongue along with pain, burning sensation, and discomfort can be linked with HPV. It is a disease that can be passed through oral sex and kissing. (5, 6, 7,8)

A patient with an itchy tongue with obvious white coating.image

Picture 1 : A patient with an itchy tongue with obvious white coating

Photo Source :

Red spots on the tongue, which causes pain, itching, and

Image 2 : Red spots on the tongue, which causes pain, itching, and inflammation
Picture Source :

Itchy Tongue associated symptoms

People with itchy tongue also complains of pain and tingling sensation in the mouth and throat. The symptoms vary from one person to another. Basically, it depends on the cause of itching. Itchy tip of tongue is mostly associated with seasonal allergy. Other associated symptoms include the following:

  • Red, itchy bumps on the tongue
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Appearance of blisters on the tongue and the surrounding structure, which sometimes causes the tongue to bleed
  • The tongue appears sore and has ridges
  • In severe condition, the lips, mouth, and throat swell (7, 8,9)

How to get rid of an itchy tongue?

The treatment for itchy tongue focuses on the underlying cause. If it is caused by allergy, then the thing that triggers the allergy should be completely stopped. It could be an allergy to food, cosmetic, or side effect of medication.

If the allergic reaction is severe, the doctor will prescribe an anti-allergy medication. On the other hand, if the itching and burning sensation of the tongue is caused by infection, an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory drugs are used.

For infections caused by yeast, an antifungal drug should be used. To somehow reduce the inflammation, alleviate itching, and prevent further infection, the patient is strongly advised to use antiseptic mouthwash. (10)

How to get rid of itchy tongue at home?

  1. Apple juice – Fruit juices like cold apple juice can help alleviate itching and burning sensation of the tongue. It also alleviate pain and soothes irritation, not just on the tongue, but on the throat too. The anti-inflammatory property of apple juice and the numbing effect of cold temperature make them effective in managing itchy tongue right in the comfort of your home.
  2. Essential oil – Oils like lavender have anti-inflammatory property. It does not just control the itch, but also fights infection and inflammation.
  3. Yogurt – If your tongue stings, you definitely need a yogurt. It is rich vitamin B5, which helps in the production of steroid hormone. Add flax seed to the yogurt and it will make a very effective anti-inflammatory agent. It does not only alleviate the itch of the tongue, but it also hastens healing and boosts the body’s immune system.
  4. Honey – The antibacterial property of honey makes it helpful in the treatment of itchy tongue.
  5. Butter herb – It contains natural substance that helps alleviate itching and inflammation.
  6. Ice chips – Chewing ice chips soothes the tongue and alleviates pain. In fact, it can relieve itching of the tongue and the surrounding tissues.
  7. Mint leaves – Mint leaves help reduce the intensity of itching. Chew mint leaves two times a day.

An itchy tongue can be very irritating. Having to deal with it for a few days is something that nobody wants to experience. If you are experiencing itching and burning sensation in your tongue that does not seem to go away, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. (5, 6, 7,9)

Also seeFissured Tongue – Pictures, Causes, Features and Cure and Inflamed (Enlarged) Taste Buds – Pictures and Treatment



Published by Dr. Raj MD under Diseases and Conditions.
Article was last reviewed on August 6th, 2018.

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