Banner Health Services  

What Causes White Spots in my Throat?

Dr. OMalley  

Cheryl O' Malley is program director in the department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.

Question: What causes white spots in my throat?

Answer: White spots on the tonsils can be caused by several different things.  The most common cause is infection.  Several differnt viral and bacterial infections cause collections of white blood cells to line the tonsils, called exudate.  This is usually accompanied by redness of the tonsils, sore throat and/or swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck.  Your doctor may do a throat culture to test for strep throat if that is suspected. 
 
Rarely, white spots on the tonsils can be caused be a hypersensitivity reaction to a medication.  This may be accompanied by fever, malaise, skin rash, mouth ulcers, and swelling of the face that begin 1-6 weeks after starting a new medicine.. 
 
Finally, some people have white spots on their tonsils whether they are sick or well, due to collections of the cells that line the mouth accumulating in the curves and bumps of the tonsils (crypts).  No specific treatment needs to be done as long as they aren't causing any pain or discomfort.
 
Reviewed March 2010

Page Last Modified: 03/09/2010
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