The most common reason for lumps on the tongue is lie bumps or transient lingual papillitis, which occurs when the papillae become irritated and swollen resulting in white or red bumps, explains Healthline. There is no known cause for lie bumps, and while they can reoccur, they are not serious and generally clear up on their own.
A common cause of lumps on the tongues of children is eruptive lingual papillitis, which is contagious and also causes swollen glands and fever, states Healthline. It is not a serious medical condition. A lump on the tongue may also mean squamous papilloma, which is usually in affiliation with the human papillomavirus. Squamous papilloma typically appears as one lump on the tongue, which is treated with surgery or laser ablation.
A red, swollen tongue with bumps on it is a symptom of scarlet fever, reports Healthline. Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics. Lymphoepithelial cysts typically present under the tongue and appear yellow in color. These cysts are benign. Lumps on the side of the tongue may indicate cancer.
Lumps may also result on the tongue as a result of trauma, such as biting the tongue or grinding the teeth, states WebMD.