Purple Tongue Causes, Symptoms and How to Get Rid

HomeTonguePurple Tongue Causes, Symptoms and How to Get Rid

Just noticed a purple tongue? A human tongue is an organ that plays various roles. Some of the common functions include chewing, swallowing, and talking. The tongue lacks a protective skin. The color of the tongue thus depends on the tissues it is composed of and the blood flowing through it.

A purple tongue is uncommon compared to other discoloration. It is, however, commonly seen in people with nutritional deficiencies. It is common in people with vitamin B2 deficiency. Here are other causes, symptoms, and how to get rid of the condition.

Purple spots on the tongue

What does it mean when you have a purple tongue?  Sometimes you may end up with a tongue that is not very often.  Besides being entirely purple, your tongue could also have other purple shades, including purple-red, dark purple, black-purple, blue-purple, among others. These colors could appear on the side of your tongue, under your tongue, on the back, and your tongue tip.

  • A reddish-purple tongue indicates heat and blood stagnation
  • A dark reddish-purple tongue that is dry usually indicates depleted fluids due to excess heat
  • A light purple, bluish-purple, or greenish-purple tongue color can be a sign of cold and blood stagnation.

Dark purple spots

What causes dark spots on the tongue? This condition could be a result of some causes. The spots may occur on the tip, side, and under your tongue. You will be able to understand the causes of this condition with the help of tongue pictures infected with this condition. The following are some of the reasons for this condition;

dark purple spot on tongue
dark purple spot on tongue

1. Hyperpigmentation

Pigments are what give your skin, eyes, and hair the color. If you have excessive pigments on your tongue, you might end up having a harmless black spotted tongue. Tongue hyperpigmentation is caused by pigmented cells called melanocytes.

At times, you could be suffering from melanoma, a type of cancer that is formed from pigmented cells. This condition is caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Most melanoma is black or brown, but others could be colored red or purple.

To treat this condition, you can use laser surgery. There are also home remedies such as potato juice, lemon juice, aloe vera, or cucumber juice that can help lighten up any darkened skin.

2. Tongue piercing

If you have tongue piercings, they could be behind dark purple marks on your tongue. This is because where you had piercing might lose its pigmentation, leaving some dark spots or patches. The marks near a tongue piercing are not caused by the bruising during the piercing process but also by the studs and jewelry you wear.

Treat any piercing infection early enough through natural remedies like aloe vera. You should also follow proper aftercare procedures.

3. Oral fibroma

The oral fibroma is a condition where scar-like tissues form in mouth after you suffer irritation for a long time. This may cause painless and tiny spots on the surface of the tongue. This condition gives rise to active cells that grow on the tongue as brown or dark patches.

To treat fibroma, you need to undergo surgical excision.

Purple veins under the tongue

You may notice purple color under the tongue; this may be due to purple veins. There is nothing wrong with you since it is very normal to have them unless they are swollen or painful. Normally, the under tongue veins will tend to be dark purple, dark blue, or black purple if there is less blood flowing to this area. This problem can affect both babies and adults.

You may also observe large purple veins under the tongue, that is, very thick, visible, and swollen. These veins can also appear on your tongue.

Purple tongue in babies

When a baby has a purple tongue, you don’t need to worry since it can be as a result of tongue biting, especially during teething. They could be simple purple or dark purple spots on the sides or under the tongue. You should check out for bruises, lesions, or injuries. It could also indicate a congenital problem or oxygen depletion.

purple vein in babies
a purple vein in babies

This condition in children could be a result of a disease though it’s very rare. Some of the common reasons for this condition include cyanosis, lung disorder, and heart disorder. The following is an insight into the health conditions causing this condition;


Cyanosis is a severe condition that shows a lack of oxygen in the blood supply. This can be as a result of various severe illnesses that inhibit circulation or oxygen take-up. Localized cyanosis can also occur in areas of poor circulation such as the hands and fingers in Raynaud’s phenomenon. There are several types of this condition, including; purple skin, blue skin, ankle blueness, among other types.

The following are some of the causes of this condition:

Acute cyanosis could be as a result of;

  • Inhaled foreign body
  • Cold exposure
  • Choking
  • Drug overdose
  • Asthma
  • Pneumothorax

Chronic cyanosis causes could be;

  • Lung disorders
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

Causes of purple tongue

The purple tongue could mean so many things since it has many causes. The following are some of the most common causes of this condition;

1. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Deficiency

Considering the types of tongue discolorations, the purple tongue is a rare case. It usually develops when a person is deficient in certain nutrients, particularly vitamin B2. Deficiency of riboflavin in most cases affects; alcoholics, vegetarians, and elderly people because of poor diet. This vitamin is water-soluble, and for this reason, the body doesn’t store it, it is therefore acquired from outside sources such as foods and dietary supplements.

Vitamin B2, along with other B vitamins, converts carbohydrates into energy for the body. As an antioxidant, it reduces the damaging effects of excess free radicals that could lead to faster aging cause different health problems.

How to treat it

Oral supplements- vitamin B2 is best taken between meals to allow better absorption. If oral supplements don’t work, your doctor may give this vitamin through injections.

You should also feed on foods rich in this vitamin, these include; cheese, whole grains, oily fish, organ meats, lean beef and lamb meat, eggs, mushrooms, soybeans, and dairy products.

What vitamin B2 supplements do we recommend?

  • Biotech Pharmacal B2-400 Riboflavin (Check price on Amazon)
  • GNC Vitamin B-2 100 MG (Check price on Amazon)

2. Central cyanosis

Central cyanosis leads to bluish-purplish discoloration of the tongue. This condition happens when your blood carries insufficient fresh oxygen throughout the body or has become sluggish.

There are different reasons why you may suffer from cyanosis, including heart or lung diseases and hemoglobin abnormalities. In adults, the major cause is serious respiratory diseases such as severe asthma attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and severe pneumonia.

Proper treatment is administered when the root cause and symptoms of this condition are known. You should, therefore, talk to your doctor as soon as possible to get the proper diagnosis and medical treatment.

3. High cholesterol levels

Cholesterol helps in the production of hormones, assists the liver in producing bile, and is part of the structure of body cells. Most naturopathy often links the purple tongue problem with elevated cholesterol levels.  This condition may lead to the blockage of your major blood vessels and is often a cause of heart problems as well as blood circulation problems.

Treatment is done by the use of naturopathic medicine, which helps the body heal itself to restore the normal cholesterol balance and maintain the proper production of cholesterol.

4. Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a condition that affects oxygenated blood supply in the body and can lead to a purple tongue, especially dark purple. This condition is also likely to cause bluish-purple veins and veins. The symptoms of this condition include wheezing, breathlessness, and a persistent cough that brings out mucus, as well as frequent chest infections.

5. Injuries

You could sustain major injuries either from tongue biting or piercing that can lead to a purplish tongue. This may involve symptoms like a bruised, sore, and swollen purple tongue.

6. General blood circulation problem

The most common cause of the purple tongue is a blood circulation problem. This condition could be a result of a range of diseases and conditions, including blood clots, peripheral disease, varicose veins, diabetes, and obesity. The symptoms may include numbness, muscle cramps, throbbing limb pain, as well as body tingling.

7. Tongue cancer

Your tongue has two parts, the oral part and the base of the tongue. Cancer can develop in either part. Cancers that develop in the oral tongue part are called mouth or oral cancer; this occupies two-thirds of your tongue. The base of the tongue in the back third of the tongue. This part is very near the throat, and the cancers that develop in this part are called oropharyngeal cancers.

 Types of tongue cancer

The most common type of tongue cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It starts in squamous cells, which are flat, skin-like cells that cover the lining of the mouth, thyroid, and throat.

Risks and causes

The risks and causes of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer include lifestyle factors and other medical conditions. Having the risk factors doesn’t mean that you will develop cancer, but they do contribute to it. These include;

  • Alcohol– drinking alcohol increases your risk of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer, especially when combined with smoking. Research shows that 30% of these cancers are caused by drinking alcohol.
  • Smoking– Smoking tobacco increases your risk of developing mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. Tobacco is found in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Research shows that more than 60% of mouth and throat cancers are a result of smoking. Those exposed to passive smoking have a slight increase in the risk of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Diet– A poor diet may increase your risk of some types of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. This could be a result of a lack of vitamins and minerals, such as iron and folic acid. A poor diet can also lead to a breakdown in oral mucosa, making it more prone to developing cancer.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – viruses can cause cell changes making them more likely to become cancerous in the future. Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted infection, which is very common. There are several types of this condition, and for many people, they cause no harm and go away without treatment.
  • Weak immune system– your body’s immune system fights infection. Some illnesses and medications can weaken your immune system. Research shows that an increased risk of mouth could be as a result of;
  • Having treatment for HIV/AIDS
  • Taking medicines to suppress your immune system after organ transplant
  • Previous cancer- people who previously had a mouth or oropharyngeal cancer have a high risk of getting a second one. The following cancers could cause this condition;
  • Cancer of food pipe
  • Squamous cell skin cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Mouth conditions– changes can happen in the cells in the lining of the mouth; they can appear as red or white patches in the mouth. The red patches are called erythroplakia, while white patches are called leukoplakia. In some people, these conditions may develop into cancer over some years.
  • Genetic conditions– people with certain conditions caused by inherited cell changes have an increased risk of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. These conditions include;
  • Fanconi anemia- a genetic condition affecting the bone marrow
  • Dyskeratosis congenital- a condition causing changes to bone marrow, skin or fingernails
  • Family history– research shows that you have a high risk of getting mouth and oropharyngeal cancer if you have a close relative who has had this condition before.

Symptoms of tongue cancer      

The symptoms of tongue cancer may include;

  • A sore spot or lump on the tongue that does not go away
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Unexplained bleeding from the tongue that does not go away
  • Numbness in the mouth that will not go away
  • A sore throat that won’t go away
  • A red or white patch on the tongue that will not go away

Treating tongue cancer

If your cancer is diagnosed early, it will be easier to control or even cure it. The treatment of this condition is highly dependent on cancer and whether it can spread to the lymph nodes in your neck. This condition may be cured through;

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Surgery- this is the best treatment for small tongue cancers. A combination of surgery and radiotherapy is needed for larger tumors that have spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. This way, both nodes on the sides of your neck will be removed. You will then have a course of radiotherapy to help get rid of any cancer cells left behind.

Blisters on tongue

Are you having bumps on your tongue? These could be lie bumps. Lie bumps are little red or white bumps that form due to stress, hormones, or particular foods. There are other forms of tongue bumps, including; canker sores, candidiasis, and bumps as a result of injuries. The following is an insight about the blisters that may occur on your tongue;

1. Injuries   

Your tongue may develop sores resembling blisters as a result of trauma. Injuries may be a result of biting your tongue, sipping hot beverages, or eating crunchy foods. These blisters may be painful and take time to go away, and unless infection develops, they aren’t a cause for concern.

If your mouth is highly sensitive and prone to injuries, you should avoid foods that generally hurt your tongue. Practice oral hygiene and use warm salt water or mouth rinse to promote healing and protect your tongue from further infections.

2. Canker sores

These blisters are one of the most common oral problems for most people. They are usually small, less than one-third of an inch diameter, and appear under the tongue, inside the surface of your lips or on your gums. These blisters may start as painful red spots or bumps that develop into open ulcers.

These sores can be caused by emotional stress, hormonal shifts, weak immune system, and celiac disease. If it gets infected, additional problems such as swollen lymph nodes and color changes will be observed.

This condition clears on its own in 7 to 10 days; it takes 3 weeks or more to heal if the area is infected. You should maintain good oral hygiene through daily brushing and flossing, and rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash such as Colgate.

3. Candidiasis

Candidiasis is an overgrowth of the candida fungus, which grows naturally in your mouth. It develops whenever the bacteria protecting your oral tissues are compromised, either through the medication-induced dry mouth or through the use of antibiotics. Symptoms of oral thrush include;

  • A bad or reduced sense of taste
  • Tongue blisters or inflamed patches of tissue, often hidden by fungi
  • White, cheesy-looking patches of fungus

This condition typically clears up in 7 to 10 days, according to research. If it extends beyond this time or it recurs frequently, you should have a doctor check you for conditions like cancer or HIV. Doctors commonly prescribe antifungal treatments. You can also maintain good oral hygiene and ensure your mouth remains hydrated.

How to get rid of natural remedies

The purple tongue could be as a result of several reasons like poor oral health, infection of the tongue, injuries, among others. This condition should not worry you much because it is possible to treat it using natural remedies. The following are some of the common remedies;

1. Brush your tongue

The purple color on your tongue could be a result of temporary stains by some colored foods like Popsicle, candy, or soft drinks. Brushing your tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush will help in removing the stain immediately. You should do it softly after brushing your teeth and then rinse with water.

Brushing for Purple Tongue
brush your tongue

2. Use a tongue scraper

If the purple stains are tough ones, use a tongue scraper after brushing your teeth. The following is how you use tongue scrapper;

  • Simply run the scrapper on your tongue
  • Do not scrape or run it vigorously because it can cause soreness in your tongue
  • Repeat the procedure twice a day

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3. Gargle with cinnamon and clove water

Cinnamon contains antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. For that reason, it can be used along with clove water to form an antiseptic mix used to get rid of any infection that could affect the tongue. The following is the procedure on how to use the mixture to get rid of purple tongue;

  • Take a long finger piece of cinnamon and use 2 cloves
  • Boil them in a glass of water till it is reduced to half
  • Wait for it to cool, and then rinse with this water
  • Repeat this twice a day

4. Eat garlic

Garlic has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and hence it is a good remedy for getting rid of stains as a result of an infection on your tongue. You should easily eat a clove of raw garlic every morning until the discoloration clears.

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a well-known medicinal herb; the juice is extracted from an aloe leaf. It contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties. Gargle this juice twice a day until the tongue heals.

We highly recommend organic cold-pressed Aloe Vera (Check price on Amazon)

6. Observe your diet

Nutritional deficiencies are a common cause of the purple tongue. You should ensure your diet has vitamin B nutrients such as soybeans, oily fish, almonds, cheese, wild rice, milk and yogurt, lean beef, among others.


  1. Purple tongue in babies: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/sym/purple_tongue_in_children.htm
  2. Tongue cancer: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/tongue-cancer
  3. Purple spots on the tongue: https://www.healthtap.com/topics/causes-of-purple-spots-on-the-tongue
  4. Blisters on the tongue: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/mouth-sores-and-infections/article/tongue-blisters-types-treatment-1215

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