Having an itchy roof of mouth (palate) can make you pretty uncomfortable. Some people experience the itching during pregnancy while others experience the symptom after eating certain fruits of foods. Still, for others, the itching is worse at night. This article explores common causes of itchy roof of mouth along with treatments and home remedies that can offer relief when your roof of mouth itches.
Itchy Roof of Mouth Causes – What Does It Mean When Your Roof Of Mouth Itches?
- 1 Itchy Roof of Mouth Causes – What Does It Mean When Your Roof Of Mouth Itches?
- 1.1 1. Allergies (Hay fever)
- 1.2 2. Oral Allergy Syndrome
- 1.3 3. Fungal Infection (Oral Thrush)
- 1.4 4. Oral Herpes
- 1.5 5. Canker Sores
- 2 What about Itchy Roof of Mouth That Occurs At Night
- 3 Itchy Roof of Mouth and Cancer
- 4 Tips for Itchy Roof of Mouth Relief
- 5 References
What causes an itchy palate? The itching in the palate is usually a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a disease in itself.
Among the possible causes of an itching sensation in the roof of mouth (palate) are discussed below:
1. Allergies (Hay fever)
An itchy roof of mouth that is coupled with sneezing may be a symptom of allergic rhinitis. This is an irritation and inflammation of the nasal cavity, throat, and eyes caused by allergens.
Allergic rhinitis occurs in hypersensitive individuals whose immune system make an allergen-antibody in response to an otherwise harmless substance (allergen) such as pollen, causing an allergic reaction. The term hay fever is commonly used to refer to seasonal allergies that occur at a given time of the year.
Some of the allergens that can cause itchy roof of mouth are:
- Pollen. Grass pollen is the leading allergen. It causes seasonal allergies at specific times of the year when grasses release pollen. Tree pollen can also trigger allergies in some people and so can weed and flower pollen.
- Mold. Some people are allergic to the spores from molds.
- Pet dander. The shedding from your cat or dog could be to blame for an itchy roof of mouth, throat, nose and ears, coupled with sneezing and other symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
- Dust mites.
Indoor allergens such as animal dander, mold spores, and dust mites tend to be present throughout the year and are usually the underlying causes of perennial – as opposed to seasonal – allergic rhinitis.
An itchy roof of mouth from allergies (or hay fever) is usually marked by other tell-tale symptoms of allergic rhinitis including:
- Watery eyes.
- Itchy, runny or congested nose.
- Itchy ears.
- An itchy or sore throat.
- Facial pain. Some people with hay fever may also experience facial pain. This is caused by sinus blockage that often occurs when allergies are associated with sinusitis as a secondary complication.
How to Stop Roof of Mouth Itching from Allergies
The following measures can help provide relief and prevent the recurrence of an itchy palate with allergic rhinitis as the underlying cause:
Antihistamine help to relieve the symptoms of hay fever by blocking the release of the chemical histamine. This help to stop the itching in the roof of mouth, ears and nose, as well as sneezing, and eye-watering.
You can use antihistamine nasal sprays such as Azelastine, antihistamine nasal drops such as Olopatadine, or tablets such as cetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine.
Control the Allergens in Your Environment
As already mentioned, pollen is a leading allergen and common underlying cause of itchy roof of mouth.
It is however very difficult to completely avoid pollen when outdoors as it is borne widely by the wind. All in all, you can limit your exposure considerably by observing some simple measures.
The following tips outline ways in which you can avoid exposure to pollen and other allergens such as dust mite and mold spores.
- Keep your car and house windows closed as much as possible during the hay fever season.
- Avoid being outdoors “a few hours after sunrise and during the hours after sunset”, advises the Yale University. This is the time when pollination – and pollen levels – is at its peak.
- Filter the pollen in your home with the help of an air conditioner. You will also want to change the filters regularly.
- While gardening, keep your hands away from your face. You don’t want to transfer the pollen and other allergens in your hands to your face.
- Shower immediately after you are through with gardening or any other outdoor activity.
- If possible, postpone lawn mowing and leaf blowing until the hay fever season lapses. Otherwise, use a facial mask to avoid inhaling pollen and other allergens.
- Rinse your nasal cavity with a saline solution. This home remedy can offer relief for itchy roof of mouth and other symptoms of allergies by flushing out the allergens. It is particularly recommended for chronic rhinitis or sinusitis. You can make one at home by mixing salt with warm water or get an over the counter product.
- Vacuum the carpets and upholstered pieces of furniture and décor in your home and car to reduce dust mite and pet dander levels.
2. Oral Allergy Syndrome
If your roof of mouth itches after eating certain fruits, vegetables, or tree nuts, you could be suffering from a condition known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS) or pollen-food syndrome. This condition makes people with pollen allergy to react to fruits, vegetables, and nuts with proteins similar to the ones in the type of pollen they are allergic to.
The so-called “cross-reacting allergens” trigger an allergic response when they come into contact with the tongue and roof of mouth. This is manifested by an itching sensation. It is also not uncommon to experience swelling and itching on the lips and back of the throat.
The exact food that triggers an itchy roof of mouth and other symptoms of allergic response varies from one individual to another but there is a tendency for people with an allergy to certain types of pollen to react when they eat certain specific fruits, carrots, and nuts as follows:
- Birch-tree pollen. If you have an allergy to birch tree pollen you may experience an itchy palate after eating apples, plums, celery, kiwi, peaches, pears, cherries, carrots, celery, almonds, and hazelnuts.
- Grass pollen. For people with an allergy to grass pollen (hay fever), it is not uncommon to experience an itchy roof of mouth, lips, and throat after eating fruits such as peaches, bananas, melons, and oranges, or vegetables such as tomatoes.
- Ragweed pollen. If ragweed pollen is your hay fever trigger, eating bananas, melons, cucumber, zucchini, and sunflower seeds can make your roof of mouth itchy.
What to Do For Itchy Palate Caused By OAS
Cases of itchy roof of mouth are confined to raw fruits and vegetables. This is because the heating process damages the allergenic proteins. With that, the immune system doesn’t recognize them as allergens any longer.
To stop itching of the palate and other parts of the mouth, avoid the raw forms of the culprit foods. Instead, consider eating baked or canned foods. For the relief of the itching, you may find antihistamines helpful. If not, your doctor may resort to epinephrine or immunotherapy.
Watch out for itchy bumps on the roof of mouth. These may be a sign of a more serious case, especially if accompanied by diarrhea, troubled breathing, tightness in your throat (as though there is a lump blocking it), nausea, dizziness, or throwing up. These symptoms warrant the urgent attention of your doctor as they may be indicative of anaphylaxis.
3. Fungal Infection (Oral Thrush)
According to Gary L. Sandler, DDS., a dentist practicing in Hauppauge, NY, an itchy palate may also be indicative of fungal infection in the mouth, or oral thrush. Oral thrush is caused by an overgrowth of the normally harmless candida fungus. This is naturally found on the skin, in the mouth, and in the digestive tract where it is kept in check by other microorganisms, especially bacteria.
The fungus can, however, grow out of control due to factors such as compromised immunity (e.g. with HIV infection), and use of antibiotics and other medications. Oral thrush is also seen commonly during pregnancy and breastfeeding and among smokers. Ill-fitting dental dentures can also increase the risk of oral fungal infection. Dry mouth syndrome also makes the mouth predisposed to oral thrush.
An itchy roof of mouth that is accompanied by itching in the corners of the mouth, tongue, and inside of the mouth may be a sign of oral thrush. You could also feel as though the food is getting stuck in the throat or experience difficulty swallowing.
Treatment of Oral Thrush
- Gargle with over the counter Corsodyl mouthwash (chlorhexidine) twice every day.
- Take antihistamines such as Loratadine (Claritin) to relieve the itching, advises Dr. Hassan, an expert on JustAnswer.com.
- Take yogurt or any other probiotic to manage the candida overgrowth biologically.
- Apply Gentian violet on the roof of mouth twice each day. This is available over-the-counter in most pharmacies (drugstores). Swab the medicine on the affected areas of the mouth, without swallowing it.
- For a severe case of an itchy rash on roof of mouth that doesn’t respond to treatment with the above over-the-counter medications, see your doctor. A prescription of Nystatin oral drops may be helpful.
4. Oral Herpes
An itchy rash on roof of mouth may be a sign of oral herpes, says Dr. Richard Jurevic, DDS, formerly an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.
Oral herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus infection. It is characterized by painful sores on the inside of cheeks, the roof of mouth, tongue, lips, and gums. The sores are usually preceded by itching, burning, or tingling at the site of infection. Blisters occurring in clusters then appear before breaking down to form white or grey ulcers with a red base. Finally, the sores crust over or scab and appear yellow.
5. Canker Sores
Canker sores can also cause itching in the roof of mouth, especially on the soft palate. The itching sensation occurs before the actual sores appear. These sores are marked by a characteristic round or oval shape and white or yellow center, and a red border along the inflamed outer ring.
Canker sores are typically very painful especially when touched. They commonly appear on the inside of the cheeks, the lips. Gums, soft palate (roof of mouth), and tongue.
Among the underlying causes of canker sores are nutritional deficiencies (especially lack of vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid), gastrointestinal problems, stress, and hormonal imbalances (for example they go into remission during pregnancy).
Canker sores go away on their own without treatment. Your doctor may, however, prescribe some medications to relieve the pain and sped up the healing if they deem it necessary. Tea tree oil may also be helpful.
What about Itchy Roof of Mouth That Occurs At Night
Does the itching on the roof of mouth and ears as well as other symptoms such as sneezing only occur or worsen at night?
Chances are that the allergens in your house are confined to your bedroom. This can, for example, be the case if your bedding is dusty.
To rule this out as a possible cause of itchy palate at night, wash all bedding frequently with warm water and soap. Proper air conditioning can also help.
Another possible explanation why your roof of mouth itches at night is an allergy to the food that you had for dinner.
Raw fruits (such as bananas and apples), raw veggies such as carrots, and nuts such as hazelnuts are common culprits. If you suspect a case of oral allergy syndrome, cut back the suspected foods and see if this helps.
Lastly, an itchy roof of mouth and throat at night may be a manifestation of acid reflux. Acid reflux is a common symptom of GERD, which stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This disease causes stomach acid to flow up into the throat and mouth.
Acid reflux usually causes a sensation of pain but as Dr. Robert Silge, MD, an allergist based in Salt Lake City, Utah says, acid reflux could as well manifest in itching sensation in the throat, roof of mouth, and ears. You should suspect acid reflux if your throat is noticeably red.
Itchy Roof of Mouth and Cancer
An irritated or itchy palate may be an accompanying symptom of mouth cancer. If this is to blame, you will most likely exhibit other symptoms of mouth cancer including a sore inside the mouth (or on the lip) that does not heal, bleeding, a lump in your neck, and coughing. You may also experience weight loss or a lump in your neck (for a case of thyroid cancer).
Keep in mind, though, that an itching or irritation of the mouth or throat doesn’t necessarily mean that you have any form of mouth cancer. If you think you could be dealing with oral cancer, get a proper diagnosis from your doctor. Early treatment will also help to control the cancer cells.
Tips for Itchy Roof of Mouth Relief
It is important to address each of the underlying causes of palate itching individually through appropriate treatments. The following general tips and home remedies may, however, be of general help when your roof of mouth itches:
- Stay away from hard foods that further irritate and worsen the itching in the roof of your mouth. Examples of foods to avoid include cookies, biscuits, chips, and nuts.
- Gargle with warm – not hot – water regularly to soothe the itching. A saline solution also works well.
- Drink a dollop of honey in warm milk several times each day to relieve the itching. The healing and soothing benefits of honey are amazing. It not only soothes a burnt tongue but also does wonder to itching mouth.
- Savor some ice cream. This home remedy helps to soothe the itching while numbing any pain.
- Allergy UK: How to Recognize Allergic Rhinitis/Hay Fever Symptoms
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI): Oral Allergy Syndrome
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). Sinusitis and Allergy
- CCM Health: Allergic Rhinitis and Allergic Conjunctivitis
- Encyclopedia.com: Canker Sores
- HealthTap: My inner ears and throat are itchy. Throat is really red and a bit swollen. Allergies? Acid reflux?
- Live Science: Oral Allergy Syndrome: 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy, Tingling Mouth
- Macmillan.org.uk: Mouth Cancer
- NHS Choices: Hay fever – Complications
- WebMD: Foods That May Trigger Pollen Allergies
- WebMD: Oral Herpes
- Yale University: Allergy Tips: Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis and Conjunctivitis