White spots on throat can be worrisome. There are a number of conditions that can cause white spots to appear on the throat and your doctor can diagnose the cause, especially when combined with any other symptoms you may have. These white spots generally are a sign of bacterial infection, commonly appearing on the tonsils, and can cause bad breath as well as be unsightly.

8 Different White Spots on Throat: Causes & Treatments

A number of medical conditions can cause white spots on throat. Below are 8 most common causes as well as treatments for these various conditions.

Strep Throat

Most commonly seen in children and teens, strep throat can occur in adults as well. It is a contagious disease caused by bacteria and symptoms include inflammation, pain in the throat, fatigue, fever, difficulty swallowing, headache and white spots on the tonsils. If left untreated, complications, such as kidney inflammation, could occur.

Treatment: For strep throat, treatment always involves the use of antibiotics, most commonly penicillin and amoxicillin, though others can be prescribed as well. You can take over-the-counter pain medication to help relieve pain and inflammation. You should rest well and gargling with salt water can soothe your throat pain.



Also called tonsil stones, tonsiloliths are calcium deposits that form in the small crevices of the tonsils at the back of the throat. They can be caused by mucus, food particles and bacteria and can be different sizes. These stones can cause pain, difficulty swallowing, a metallic taste in the mouth and bad breath.

Treatment: If there is no discomfort, treatment is not necessary, as the tonsils will clean themselves. Eating crackers helps remove the white spots because they make your tongue work harder, cleaning out the deposits. You can also periodically spray a salt water solution on the back of your throat to help remove the spots. If there is any discomfort, laser surgery can remove them.



Tonsillitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection and the symptoms include swollen tonsils, white spots on the tonsils and throat, difficulty swallowing, pain and fever. The lymph nodes on the sides of the neck may also be swollen.

Treatment: If tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, then your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If it is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not necessary. Treatment includes rest, a liquid diet if swallowing is difficult and gargling with salt water. If tonsillitis is recurring, then surgery is necessary to remove the tonsils.


Oral Thrush

This is a condition caused by a yeast infection and it is characterized by white spots on throat and tongue that can extend down the esophagus. The corners of the mouth can become ragged and sore, and thrush can cause pain in the throat and difficulty swallowing. It is typically seen in babies and adults with a weakened immune system. And infected mothers who are nursing can pass it to their babies, so you may require medication for your baby.

Treatment: For oral thrush, treatment includes the prescribing of antifungal medication and an antifungal cream may be given to apply to the breasts during breastfeeding. For adults and older children, gargling with salt water can help rinse the mouth and prevent the spread of the yeast to the rest of the mouth and throat.


Oral Herpes

Spread by kissing, oral sex or sharing utensils with an infected person, oral herpes is typically characterized by sores on the lips and white spots on throat, and these will often recur. It is caused by either the herpes simplex-1 or herpes simplex-2 virus. Other symptoms include burning or itching, difficulty swallowing, fever and difficulty breathing.

Treatment: Although there is no cure for herpes virus and it can recur, you still can use anti-viral medications, including acyclovir, Valtrex and famciclovir, to treat and ease your symptoms. If you have oral herpes, you can also soothe the pain and discomfort by gargling with salt water, keeping hydrated and getting plenty of rest.



This is another condition caused by candida yeast and is characterized by white spots on the back of the throat. It is considered a rare condition but can be seen in those with weakened immune systems. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing and a burning sensation in the mouth and throat.

Treatment: You can treat it with anti-fungal medications prescribed by your doctor and oral salt water rinses can also help eliminate the fungus and keep it from spreading. If your baby gets white spots on throat caused by candidiasis, you may need to perform a stricter hygiene regime, such as get their clothes and bed lining ironed, clean the toys with soda power, etc.


Infectious Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is a contagious viral infection that can be characterized by white spots on throat as well as by chronic fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and swollen tonsils. It can also be spread through sharing utensils with an infected person. Mononucleosis can cause several complications, one of which is an enlarged spleen.

Treatment: Medications are not prescribed because they cannot treat a viral infection. It has to run its course. You should get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids for severe swelling, and you can also take over-the-counter medications to ease your pain and discomfort.



Leukoplakia is a pre-cancerous condition characterized by white spots in the mouth and on the throat. Smoking and chewing tobacco are the biggest risk factors for this condition. The spots cannot be scraped off, but most cases are considered benign.

Treatment: Stop the use of any tobacco products and alcohol, and the condition will usually clear up on its own. Portions of larger patches can be removed by a scalpel or laser treatment. If cancer is suspected, a cold probe is used to freeze cells and remove for testing.


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