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Warts on Tongue

Have you ever tried to eat something and the mouth is very sore such that anything that goes into the mouth comes out as fast? You admire tasty food only with your eyes because even a little salt irritates your mouth.

Was it a sore that caused this particularly on the tongue? Well if it was, though rare, this probably was not a usual sore. It could have been a wart. Yes, a wart on the tongue.

What is a Wart on Tongue?

A wart is also known as Verruca Vulgaris (1,2). It is a non-cancerous lesion of the skin and also affects the mucous membrane (2, 3, 4). It can affect any part of the body from the skin, genitals, toes and the tongue is one of those areas.

It is however reported in literature that occurrence on the tongue is quite uncommon (2).Of the few it effects on the tongue, majority are immunocompromised for example from HIV infection. (1)

Wart on tongue
Image 1 : Wart on tongue
Picture Source : medicalpoint.org

How does one get wart on tongue and is it infectious?

Wart on tongue is infectious (1, 6) and is usually transmitted when one gets into contact with another person with a wart. This contact may be through kissing or oral sex. Indeed, many cases reported have been linked to oral sex practice (6). In oral sex, the person will get from an individual with this type of wart in the genitals.

What are the signs and symptoms of wart on tongue?

The signs and symptoms commonly reported are (1, 6, 7);

  • The person will have cauliflower like sores on the tongue. They appear as raised bumps on the skin (8)
  • The sores are rough in texture
  • The color may be white or resemble the color of the mouth
  • Pain on the tongue and difficult moving it
  • The sores could be single or they could be multiple sores
  • There will be difficult eating, talking, chewing or even opening the mouth depending on the exact location of the wart
  • Bleeding from the tongue if one tries to rupture the lesion

What causes warts on tongue?

  • The microorganisms attributed to cause the wart on tongue is a virus.
  • This virus is called Human papillomavirus (HPV). It is the same virus that is associated with cervical cancer and other forms of warts in the body, though the genotypes involved in each case are different (2, 4, 9).
  • This virus is transmitted through sexual contact and kissing to cause wart on tongue (9)

What is the treatment for wart on tongue?

Wart on tongue is actually harmless though it causes discomfort. The lesions are typically known to be self-limiting, meaning that they can appear and resolve by themselves without any intervention. However, they may also progress to cause immense discomfort to an individual.

The spontaneous healing depends on the person’s immunity and the type of virus involved (2).

One must seek treatment if the wart is extensive, has been there for more than 2 years, causing discomfort and is spreading (4).

In addition, they may obscure the signs and symptoms for oral cancer and therefore, one must be keen to be checked by a doctor to rule out malignancy lesions (10).

Since this is a viral infection, it poses a challenge to treat. However, some medications and remedies can be used to provide comfort and heal the lesions. However scaring may occur after the treatment.

Treatment must be sought form a qualified medical practitioner. Excision or rupturing of the wart at home or by an unqualified personnel should be discouraged as it may cause bleeding, spread of the virus to other areas and injury to the tongue surface (3, 8)

Treatment for warts on tongue and home remedies

  1. Antiviral medications can be applied on the wart. An example is acyclovir topical application. This is commonly used in patients who are HIV positive (1,4). It must be prescribed.
  2. Salicylic acid topical application will reduce the pain (4). They remove the dead skin surface cells promoting healing of the wart (7)
  3. Several surgical treatments including  cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen , electrocauterization and laser therapy have all been tried(2,4,8)
  4. Pain medication to treat the pain. The doctor may prescribe a topical analgesic to reduce the pain (1) to allow eating
  5. Eat soft foods at a comfortable temperature. Identify those beverages and foods that cause minimal discomfort. Avoid highly spiced foods and citrus juices.

Some home remedies have been identified and include(1,4)

  • Applying a banana peel on the tongue several times a day
  • Rubbing a cut raw potato on the affected area
  • Appling aloe Vera juice using a cotton swab
  • Garlic- crush some garlic and cover the affected area
  • Tea tree oil-tea tree oil has been found to have some antiseptic properties. Apply with a cotton wool ball several times a day

How can one prevent wart on tongue?

To prevent the wart on tongue, avoiding contact with individuals who have the warts is key. The commonest mode of transmission is through oral sex, therefore one should avoid oral sex. If this is unavoidable, condoms must be used. However, this does not guarantee 100%protection (6).

Though it is not required that an infected person discloses this to persons they are likely to get contact with, they are encouraged to be socially responsible in order to avoid transmission (1).

If one has a genital wart, it is important that they seek treatment to avoid transmission to the tongue since the same organism can be transmitted through contamination (8)

If one has a wart, they should avoid rupturing it to prevent further spread to other areas (3, 8)


Warts on tongue is a viral non-cancerous lesion that affects the tongue tissue, common among the immunocompromised persons. It is contagious and can be self-limiting resolving without any treatment. When treatment is required, it must be sought from a qualified practitioner to prevent injury to the tissues, spread to other parts of the body and to rule out oral cancer

Reference :

  1. Medicalpoint.org. Warts on Tongue – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://medicalpoint.org/warts-on-tongue/
  2. Ahmet Ural B. Verruca vulgaris of the tongue: a case report with literature review. Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences [Internet]. 2014 [cited 19 January 2016];14(3):136. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4333997/
  3. WiseGEEK. How Can I Remove Tongue Warts? (with pictures) [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.wisegeekhealth.com/how-can-i-remove-tongue-warts.htm
  4. Emedicine.medscape.com. Nongenital Warts: Background, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1133317-overview
  5. Medicalpoint.org. [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://medicalpoint.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/warts-on-tongue.jpg
  6. Healthcentre.org.uk. Oral Warts Treatment | Removing Warts using Oral Treatments [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.healthcentre.org.uk/cosmetic-treatments/wart-oral-warts-treatment.html
  7. Dermnetnz.org.  Warts, verrucas, human papillomavirus infection. DermNet NZ [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.dermnetnz.org/viral/viral-warts.html
  8. Healthline. Warts [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.healthline.com/health/skin/warts#Overview1
  9. Healthline. Human Papillomavirus Infection [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.healthline.com/health/human-papillomavirus-infection#Overview1
  10. Healthline. What Does Mouth Cancer Look Like? [Internet]. 2016 [cited 19 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/what-does-mouth-cancer-look#2

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