Geographic Tongue-Pictures, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


Geographic tongue is a condition wherein there is an inflammation of the tongue that would result to discoloration of the taste buds, balding and cracking on various regions of the tongue, as well the appearance of white lines on the edges. This condition is also termed as “migratory glossitis” for the reason that the papillae or the little bumps on the tongue fall off, but new papillae will then grow in some other parts. Geographic tongue could look very alarming but this is a harmless condition; however, it could give the person embarrassment and discomfort especially upon eating hot and spicy foods. Stress, hormonal changes, such as menstruation in the case of women, and illnesses could worsen geographic tongue.

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Symptoms of Geographic Tongue

  • Reddish lesions of the tongue usually outlined with white. These are often found on the center or on the side of the tongue.
  • Migrating or relocation of these lesions from time to time. In some cases, these lesions move a couple of times in a day.
  • Changing of the sizes of the lesions.
  • Discomfort or a burning sensation felt on the tongue upon eating, especially hot, spicy, acidic, and salty foods like sharp cheeses, candy, mint and walnuts.
  • Aggravation could also happen from strong chemicals found in mouth washes and teeth whitening agents.

Risk Factors for Geographic Tongue

People who have a family history of geographic tongue are at risk to have inherited the condition as well. Also, people who have fissured tongues or those who have deep groves and fissures on the tongue could also develop geographic tongue. There are ongoing studies that imply that people with diabetes, allergies, problems with the immune system, skin problems, those who are under extreme amounts of stress, and those who are regularly using oral contraceptives are also at risk of acquiring geographic tongue.

Treatment for Geographic Tongue

There is no known cure for geographic tongue but there are lots of suggested ways in order to suppress this condition. One effective means to prevent having any burning sensation is to avoid foods that have strong spicy ingredients in it. It is also advisable to avoid alcoholic beverages, heavy toothpastes with strong whitening agents, and tobacco products. Vitamin B supplements would also help hide the lesions temporarily. If the geographic tongue becomes a bother, seek medical attention from the dentist or the doctor. They would usually prescribe over the counter pain medicines that would temporarily alleviate the itch or the pain which could be felt, but this rarely happens. Some would prescribe mouth rinses with anesthetic, and antihistamine mouth rinses. These are only supportive ways to suppress the condition. Geographic tongue usually goes away on its own through time.

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Geographic tongue does not pose any harmful threat to one’s health. However, it could cause inconvenience and embarrassment to the part of the person who has it. The best thing to manage it is to avoid the foods and other strong chemicals that could cause the lesions to be more inflamed.

Geographic Tongue Pictures

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