Strawberry Tongue: Causes,Symptoms,Treatment

Strawberry Tongue
Strawberry Tongue

Have you ever felt your tongue a bit red and swollen? You may have  Strawberry Tongue.

The tongue is normally pink and has a unified shade. It can be a cause for concern when it appears patchy or when it changes in appearance.

Strawberry tongue is not a condition or disease in itself but rather a symptom that is a result of another disorder or condition.

In this article, we will help you to know what is Strawberry Tongue, it’s causes & symptoms and its remedies.

What Is Strawberry Tongue?

What is strawberry tongue
What is strawberry tongue

“Strawberry tongue’ usually refers to a tongue condition that is bumpy and swollen, in a number of cases the tongue is also red, sometimes white and enlarged, resembling a strawberry or even a raspberry.

As said above, Strawberry tongue isn’t itself a condition. A red, bumpy tongue with enlarged taste buds are symptoms of an underlying condition or disorder. Diagnosing and treating the condition or disorder will revert your tongue to its usual appearance.

Causes Of Strawberry Tongue

There are many disorders responsible for causing strawberry tongue. You will have to analyze the other symptoms to come to conclusion about the disorder. Your doctor may also examine you physically to determine the underlying cause of an inflamed red tongue.

  1. Kawasaki Disease
  2. Scarlet Fever
  3. Food or drug allergies
  4. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
  5. Vitamin deficiency

1. Kawasaki Disease

This is a rare condition that is commonly seen in children, however, it can develop in adults too. The reason is unknown as for why some people develop Kawasaki disease and others do not, thus risk factors are not certain.

The disease results in inflammation occurring in some of the body’s arteries. The condition is usually treatable with the initial treatment therapy including intravenous immunoglobulin and aspirin. The intravenous medication will be administered in a medical facility.

The Symptoms Of Kawasaki Disease Include

  • Rash
  • High fever
  • Irritated and red eyes with thick discharge in some cases
  • Peeling and flaking skin
  • Inflammation in feet and hands
  • Chapped lips
  • Strawberry tongue

2. Scarlet Fever

This bacterial condition commonly occurs when strep throat is left untreated. It basically results in a red rash covering large parts of the body and is typically observed in children between the ages of five and fifteen.

Scarlet fever is normally a short-term illness and will resolve within a number of days or weeks with the aid of a professional diagnosis and a course of antibiotics.

The Symptoms Of Scarlet Fever Include

  • In the first few days, you may observe white strawberry tongue which may turn red afterward
  • Red rash covering a large portion of the body
  • High fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Red lines forming in the folds of the skin (particularly around the groin)

3. Food Or Drug Allergies

Drug or food allergies can result in a number of symptoms, the strawberry tongue being one of them. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system attacks something that is mistakenly recognized as a threat. The body releases a chemical known as histamine that causes a number of the symptoms associated with allergies.

The intake of certain fruits and vegetables may be a common culprit in the development of strawberry tongue as part of an allergic reaction. The common treatment for allergic reactions is antihistamines, or in more severe cases, an EpiPen will be used if the throat closes up from inflammation and the airways are blocked.

The Symptoms Of Allergies Include

  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Scratchy mouth and throat
  • Rash
  • Difficulty breathing (this is may lead to anaphylactic shock and is a medical emergency)

4. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

This is a rare and life-threatening reaction or a side effect of some bacterial infections. TSS  occurs suddenly which is usually caused by the release of certain toxic and harmful substances due to a bacterial overgrowth is known as staph or Staphylococcus aureus.

This bacterium is found in a number of women’s bodies and TSS often affects women who are menstruating and is associated with the incorrect use of tampons. However, men are also able to develop the condition if they have been exposed to this specific strain of staph bacteria from recent surgery, open wounds, or if they are using a prosthetic device.

The body reacts to the bacteria through a rapid drop in blood pressure leading to the organs being deprived of oxygen which can result in death.

Some of the risk factors include open wounds, the use of tampons that are super absorbent without changing them regularly, and recent surgery.

Nasal packing which involves the application of gauze, cotton wool or sterile tampons to the nasal chamber in order to apply continuous pressure to the nasal septum in an attempt to stop bleeding, has also been identified as an associated risk factor.

The Symptoms Of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) Include:-

  • High fever that suddenly develops
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea or vomiting
  • The development of a rash that looks like a sunburn on soles of feet and palms of hands
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Strawberry tongue

It is very important to understand that TSS can be a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention and should be treated as a medical emergency.

5. Vitamin Deficiency

A deficiency of the vitamin B-12 can also result in a strawberry tongue. Vitamin B-12 plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system and brain, as well as the formation of the red blood cells in the body. If the B-12 levels are low, then the red blood cell count will deplete and may result in anemia. Anaemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells present in the body.

The Symptoms Of a B-12 Deficiency Include

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Memory issues (cognitive)
  • Balance difficulties

Strawberry Tongue And Glossitis

Glossitis is a term that describes the tongue being inflamed. Glossitis may cause swelling of the tongue, change in color and may usually appear smooth on the surface, making the small nodules on the tongue (papillae) disappear. These papillae play a vital role in how we eat food and contain hundreds of thousands of small sensors known as taste buds.

The main difference between glossitis and strawberry tongue is that the strawberry tongue results in visible bumps on the tongue and glossitis result in the tongue swelling, changing color and developing a smooth surface.

Glossitis, much like strawberry tongue, is often a symptom of an illnesses or health condition and not a condition on its own.

The Most Common Conditions That Cause Glossitis Include:

  • Anaemia (iron-deficiency and pernicious forms)
  • Deficiencies in vitamin B complex
  • Untreated coeliac/celiac disease
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections of the mouth caused by bacteria, viruses or yeast

Symptoms Of Glossitis Include:

  • A red, inflamed tongue that has a smooth surface (no papillae are evident)
  • A sore tongue
  • Swelling of the tongue (which when severe may block the airway, although this is rare)
  • Difficulty in speaking, chewing or swallowing due to discomfort and pain

Generally, glossitis resolves on its own once the underlying cause has been treated.

Are There Any Potential Complications?

A strawberry tongue can be painful and irritating, may bite your own tongue because it’s usually larger than a normal one. You may also have a tough time chewing and swallowing food and drink until the swelling ends.

The conditions that can cause a strawberry tongue can result in serious complications, however. Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation of arteries in your body, can lead to long-term artery inflammation.

Scarlet fever may lead to rheumatic fever. This disease can cause inflammation in your heart, brain, joints, and skin. In some cases, it can also lead to kidney disease and severe ear infections.

If not treated quickly, TSS can result in organ damage, shock, and possibly death.

Strawberry Tongue Treatment

One of the easiest ways to find out what’s causing strawberry tongue is to observe what other symptoms you’re experiencing. The first thing your doctor might ask for a recent medical history. Explain when you developed changes to your tongue. Convey your doctor about all other symptoms you’re experiencing and when they started.

This list of symptoms may be all that’s necessary for a diagnosis, but some tests may help your doctor confirm a diagnosis.

Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Strawberry Tongue

Effectively finding and curing the condition is going to depend on what actually causing these red spots. You can follow any home remedy given below to cure strawberry tongue.

1. Antibacterial Medication

Treatment and care of strawberry tongue
Treatment and care of strawberry tongue

Given to scarlet fever and to patients with bacterial toxic shock

2. Diet Improvement/Vitamin Supplements

For patients who have B-vitamin deficiencies

3. Complementary Treatments

Complementary treatments may also be prescribed, especially when kids are the ones suffering from the condition. These treatments include:

  • Antipyretics
  • Fluid therapy
  • Pain medication
  • Rest
  • Isolation – For patients who have Scarlet Fever

When To Call Your Doctor?

If you develop a severe strawberry tongue, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. Diagnosing the underlying cause is the only way to treat the swollen tongue. Look for medical attention if other symptoms you’re experiencing indicates a serious problem and need medical attention.

FAQs Related To Strawberry Tongue

Que1:- Is Strawberry Tongue Contagious?

Sol:- Strawberry tongue is a symptom. It’s rarely possible that it’ll be contagious but one needs to be sure of disorder or condition if that is contagious.

Que2:- How Long Does Strawberry Tongue Last?

A:- Being a symptom, it usually lasts when the disorder lasts.

Que3:- Does Strawberry Tongue Go Away On Its Own?

A: – It usually remains, till you have that disorder causing your tongue red and swollen. Once you start taking meds for the disorder. The strawberry tongue starts fading away.


It’s a big misconception among people that Strawberry tongue is a disorder whereas its basically a syndrome that can be a result of many conditions such as Kawasaki, Scarlet fever, Allergies, Vitamin Deficiency etc.

So, you need to take good care of your tongue and definitely consult your doctor when similar symptoms, you notice.

Hope you have got enough information about home remedies, symptoms, and causes of a strawberry tongue. If you have any question regarding this, please comment it below in comment section. Your question will be answered by a proper medical staff.