Warts on the Tongue: Types, Causes, and Treatments

Warts on the Tongue Types, Causes, and Treatments

Warts are flesh-colored bumps that can form anywhere on the body, like hands, tongue, or genital areas. Warts on the tongue is a common condition found in about 10% of men and 3.6% of women (1). 

Oral warts can be transmitted from one person to another; hence, it is essential to take precautions while having such warts. Here is detailed information about tongue warts, their types, symptoms, prevention methods, and treatment.

What Causes Warts On The Tongue?

What Causes Warts On The Tongue

Warts on the tongue are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) (2). It may develop after doing oral sex if the receptive partner has genital warts. A person may also contract the virus if they have been engaged in open-mouth kissing with a partner suffering from oral HPV.

As oral warts can transmit easily, if a person touches a wart with their hands and then puts the hand into the mouth without washing, the wart can develop in the tongue. It is usually common among children (3). The virus may also enter the oral cavity if a person bites virus-infected nails.

If a person has a weak immune system, it becomes difficult for the body to fight off the virus. This makes the person susceptible to the HPV virus. A slight contact with the virus will invade the system and affect the body.

Also, if there is a cut or scrape in the body and that part comes in contact with warts, the virus may enter from that opening.

Types Of Warts In The Tongue

Different strains of HPV can cause wart formation on the tongue. Depending on the HPV strain, some common oral warts are of the following types-

Squamous Papilloma

These are cauliflower-like lesions that are white in color. The strains responsible for this type of warts are HPV strains 6 and 11.

Verruca Vulgaris

Verruca vulgaris

These warts are caused by HPV strains 2 and 4.

Focal Epithelial Hyperplasia

These lesions are related to HPV strains 13 and 32. It is also called Heck’s disease.

Condyloma Acuminates

Associated with HPV 2, 6, and 11, these lesions are commonly found in the genital area. However, they can spread to the tongue through sexual contact.

How To Decrease The Risk Of Oral Hpv And Warts Transmission On The Tongue

The only way to reduce the risk of oral HPV and warts transmission on the tongue is to refrain from all intimate and sexual contact with the affected person till it is completely healed. 

HPV virus can only spread and transmit when there is skin-to-skin contact, whether there are warts or not. So, it is of utmost importance to have no physical contact with a person affected by HPV.

Here, it is essential to have a healthy conversation with your partner to discuss the issues during intimacy when one of the partners is suffering from oral warts. If you are having any wart and suspicious of it being an HPV infection, consult a physician immediately. If it is diagnosed as an HPV infection, inform your partner as early as possible so that they can also go for a screening. 

You might also think about getting screened for STIs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. This will clear out the complete status of both partners. Also, you might consider avoiding open-mouth kissing and oral sex if your partner has a wart on the tongue.

It is advised to use barriers like a dental dam or a condom that can help to reduce the risk of transmission from one person to the other.

One preventive way to be safe from the HPV virus is getting the HPV vaccine. Both partners must get the HPV vaccine at the same time to decrease the risk of infection. The beneficial aspect of the HPV vaccine is that it protects you against several strains of HPV. 

Hence, you can be stress-free about other strains by taking HOPV vaccine doses. Children above eleven years and adults up to forty-five years of age can safely take the HPV vaccine.

How To Treat Warts On Tongue

As different strains cause different types of warts, they have varying time durations for healing. Some warts can heal without taking any treatment. However, this may take months and years for complete healing.

Usually, the line of treatment depends upon the strain type as it decides wart size and whether it is painful or not.

Some warts make eating and drinking very difficult. But in other cases, they might feel like a bump and are entirely harmless. 

  • If the wart is a harmless, non-disturbing type, try eating from the other side of the mouth to avoid irritation and biting it down.
  • If the wart is harmless but growing, consult a healthcare professional and discuss treatment options. The doctor may prescribe a medicine or may obliterate the wart.


The process that removes a wart is called cryotherapy. In it, the doctors use cold liquid nitrogen to freeze off the abnormal cells or tissues.


Another procedure that removes abnormal cells and tissues is electro-surgery. In this process, a strong electric current is used to cut through the wart and removes extra cells. Depending on the condition, the doctor may decide which procedure to follow.

Surgical Removal 

The healthcare professional may also use surgical excision where he may cut off the warts with a scalpel or laser. Sometimes, doctors use Imiquimod cream for the warts. One more effective way to remove oral warts is using trichloroacetic acid, which involves three applications within forty-five days.


Not every bump on the tongue is a wart. Sometimes, irritation from sour food, injury from biting the tongue, or cold sores may also form warts on the tongue. 

Most times, HPV clears up on its own after two years of infection (4). Once the body has cleared the infection, warts go away. The warts usually do not cause cancer and hence are considered low risk. 

However, it is always advised to consult a dentist or dermatologist once you notice warts on your tongue. They will also guide you on taking preventive measures and stopping further transmission to others.


  1. Centers Of Disease Control And Prevention – HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer
  2. National Library Of Medicine – Verruca vulgaris of the tongue: a case report with literature review 
  3. National Library Of Medicine – Verruca Vulgaris of the Tongue
  4. National Library Of Medicine – Genital Warts

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