What Is Strawberry Tongue?

If your tongue is swollen and bumpy, you may have a case of strawberry tongue. It's not a condition -- it's a symptom of different conditions or disorders.

Your tongue usually appears red, but it can be white. It's also called raspberry tongue.

Causes

strawberry tongue close upMany conditions can make your tongue swollen and bumpy. Your doctor will need to know about any other symptoms you may have.

Strawberry tongue can be a symptom of the following:

  • Kawasaki disease: This causes inflammation in some of the arteries in your body. Other symptoms include high fever, peeling skin, rash, and red, goopy eyes. You typically get this during childhood.
  • Scarlet fever: When you have strep throat, it can sometimes turn into this bacterial illness. It causes a red rash over most of your body. Other symptoms include red lines in the folds of your skin, a flushed face, high fever, sore throat, and headache. It happens most often to children between the ages of 5 and 15.
  • Food or drug allergies: In some cases, strawberry tongue may be a sign that you're allergic to a medicine you've taken or something you've eaten. Fruits and vegetables are the most common culprits. Your doctor can give you antihistamines to help with the swelling and redness.
  • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS): It's rare, but this can sometimes cause strawberry tongue. TSS is a life-threatening side effect of certain bacterial infections. Most cases are linked to the use of tampons, but it also can be associated with nasal packing (when gauze is put into the chambers in your nose to stop bleeding). Other symptoms include sudden high fever, headache, sore throat, aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It's important to see a doctor if you think you may have this.

 

Strawberry Tongue and Glossitis

A tongue condition that's a lot like strawberry tongue is glossitis. It makes your tongue swollen and red but not bumpy.

Like strawberry tongue, glossitis can show up as a side effect of different conditions. Both can be a sign of low B12, but glossitis is most likely a symptom of something that's not related to strawberry tongue.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 11, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Shandro, J. A Practical Guide to Pediatric Emergency Medicine: Caring for Children in the Emergency Department, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Mayo Clinic: "Kawasaki Disease," "Thalassemia," "Scarlet Fever."

Fleisher, G. Synopsis of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002.

National Organization for Rare Disorders: "Toxic Shock Syndrome."

Quigley, E. Neuro-gastroenterology, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004.

Pediatric Dental Health: "Food Allergy and Sensitivity in Children."

U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Pernicious Anemia."

Stanford Medicine: "The Tongue in Diagnosis."

American Family Physician: "Common Tongue Conditions in Primary Care."

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.