A pimple in the back of your throat may actually be a canker sore or a symptom of an underlying condition, like an infection.


Bumps that resemble pimples in the back of the throat are typically a sign of irritation. Their outward appearance, including color, will help your doctor identify the underlying cause. Many causes aren’t serious, but some do require a prompt visit to your doctor.

Read on to learn what could be behind pimple-like bumps in your throat and treatment options.

White bumps

White bumps in the throat could be the result of exposure to a chemical irritant or a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, such as:

Make an appointment with your doctor if the white bumps persist. They can confirm a diagnosis and get you the treatment you need.

Red bumps

Common causes of red bumps in the back of the throat include:

Both white and red bumps

If there’s an overlap of red bumps with white bumps, the causes may include:

For bacterial infections like strep throat, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If you’re also experiencing discomfort, your doctor also might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

For fungal infections like oral thrush, your doctor might prescribe an antifungal, such as:

  • nystatin (Bio-Statin)
  • itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan)

For a viral infection like herpes, your doctor might prescribe an antiviral medication, such as:

For a chronic condition, you doctor will have specific treatment recommendations for you. For example, if your doctor suspects oral cancer, they may order a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. If cancer is confirmed, treatment may involve chemotherapy, surgery, or both.

Although small bumps in the back of the throat aren’t necessarily a sign of a major health issue, it’s best to have your doctor take a look to determine the underlying cause. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can get treatment.

In the meantime, here are some steps you can take at home:

Practice good dental hygiene

Brush your teeth and gums after every meal and consider using a tongue scraper and antibacterial mouthwash. Here’s everything you need to know about dental hygiene basics.

Limit or avoid dairy and sugar

Dairy products and sugar both trigger mucus production and support Candida overgrowth.

Consider food allergies

Avoid foods that trigger any allergies you may have. You might have an undiagnosed food allergy that’s triggering the bumps in the back of your throat, too. Common food allergies include:

Stay hydrated

Proper hydration is a key component of good health. See how much water you should actually drink.

Use a saltwater gargle

Gargling with salt water can help address throat bumps, other irritations, and infections. To make a saltwater gargle, mix together:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces of warm water

Gargle the mixture for 30 seconds. Spit it out after gargling. Continue using daily until the bumps go away.

Many cases of pimple-like bumps in the back of the throat are easily treatable. Make an appointment with your doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment underway.

If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.