Geographic Tongue-Treatment, Pictures, Symptoms, Causes


Geographic tongue is a condition of the tongue that is harmless and is characterized by several discoloured patches that look like maps. Geographic tongue does not indicate the presence of tongue cancer.

Symptoms of geographic tongue

Some of the signs and symptoms of geographic tongue include the following:

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• The side of the tongue or the top may have blister-like lesions that are reddish in color, smooth and in abnormally shaped patches. These map-like patches may have greyish-white borders. On rare occasions, the tongue may also develop ridges or fissures.

• The small and tiny projections on the tongue called papillae are lost in the affected areas, making that area look smooth and flat.

• The shape and size of the patches as well as the locations change constantly on a daily or hourly basis.

• In some cases, when an individual affected by geographic tongue eats or swallows liquids or food items that are acidic, spicy, salty or hot, then it may result in pain, irritation, discomfort or stinging sensations in the tongue.

• The condition has a long period of stay, from some months to even years. Geographic tongue more often than not, gets cured on its own, but the chances of a relapse are greater than normal

• The lesions may cause embarrassment to the individuals and raise their anxiety levels.

Causes of geographic tongue

The exact causes of geographic tongue are unknown. However, some of the causes and risk factors of geographic tongue are listed below:

• A family history of geographic tongue increases the risk of the individual to develop the condition

• Deficiency in vitamin B may result in the development of geographic tongue

• Use of oral contraceptives

• Irritation that may result from excessive intake of hot and spicy foods, alcoholism and on some occasions, excessive smoking may lead to geographic tongue.

• Presence of psychological conditions and disorders, diabetes, skin disorders as well as increased levels of stress

• An error of the immune system may cause some types of white blood cells to perform certain activities that may result in swelling or inflammation of the tongue in the form of lesions.

• Hypersensitivity of the immune system or the presence of allergies.

• Women are at greater risk to develop geographic tongue than men, especially during pregnancies due to the rapid hormonal changes in their bodies.

Treatment of geographic tongue

There are no special treatment methods for geographic tongue. However, one may take some medications to alleviate the pain and discomfort and follow the preventive measures mentioned below:

• Daily mouth rinses with an anesthetic

• Painkillers or pain relievers that may be available over the counter

• One may also rinse the mouth with antihistamine.

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• Use of corticosteroid balms or ointments

• Zinc and vitamin B supplements may help in the treatment of geographic tongue.

• An individual may also find relief by sucking on mint candies, chewing mint leaves or chewing gums with mint flavours, when the pain becomes unbearable.

• Preventive measures include excluding food articles that may irritate the tongue or aggravate an existing case of geographic tongue. Excessive alcohol intake, acidic, hot and spicy foods, smoking and use of tobacco products, toothpaste with heavy chemicals, etc. should be avoided.

Geographic Tongue Pictures

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