If you have a white spot on your tongue surrounded by a red, inflamed halo, it's probably a canker sore. These common and recurring lesions can range in size and appear as a single white spot on your tongue or in a group. Canker sores are often painful, and scraping doesn't remove them. Viruses, bacteria, a family history of canker sores, and immune system issues are some suspected risk factors for canker sores, even though their root cause is still unknown. And there's a wide range of canker sore triggers that include:
- Trauma to the skin (like biting the area)
- Cigarette smoking
- Acidic foods
- Iron and vitamin deficiencies
- Toothpaste and mouthwash with sodium lauryl sulfate
Canker sores usually go away on their own. They're not contagious and do not pose more severe health risks. As noted by Mayo Clinic, most canker sores that are small require no medical attention. They clear up on their own within a week or two. But if your canker sore is large and painful, seeing a medical professional can help. They may prescribe one of the following treatments to provide relief, such as a topical, gel, antibiotic, mouth rinse, or cauterizing of the sore.