Dental Problems

Geographic Tongue

Geographic Tongue

It is a harmless condition, but can be persistent or uncomfortable. It is also known as continental tongue, tongue-patchy, erythema migrans and benign migratory glossitis.

Causes of Geographic Tongue

The exact cause or causes of geographic tongue is unknown but the following factors have been linked with the condition:

  • Vitamin B deficiency
  • Irritation from hot or spicy foods
  • Irritation from alcohol
  • Environmental sensitivity such as asthma, allergies and eczema
  • Diabetes
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Some link it with stress
  • It also seen to run in families
  • Some studies linked it with psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common chronic, inflammatory skin disease characterized by scaly patches.
  • In some people particular foods for example cheese causes geographic tongue.
  • In some cases chemicals such as teeth whiteners and mouth washes aggravate the condition.

Geographic tongue is seen to appear less common in smokers. It also seen that it occurs more in females than males and more in adults.

Symptoms of Geographic Tongue

Sometimes geographic tongue does not show any symptoms. Sometimes it may show the following symptoms.

  • Burning or irritation of the tongue is the most common symptoms especially with hot or spicy foods.
  • Soreness
  • Stinging sensation
  • A feeling of discomfort
  • It may cause numbness of the tongue.

Prevention of Geographic Tongue

  • The best way to prevent Geographic Tongue is to avoid taking the foods or other irritants such as alcohol that trigger this condition.
  • Avoid taking hot and spicy food if these are the cause.

When to Get Medical Advice?

If the symptoms last longer than ten days, immediately contact your doctor.

Treatment of Geographic Tongue

Actually geographic tongue vanishes by itself after sometime or some days (1 or 3 days). There are no particular treatment options available for geographic tongue. But there are several ways by which the condition is suppressed.

  • Some people report that taking vitamin B supplements treats the condition temporarily. Some report applications of anti inflammatory steroids topically clears the patches
  • If there are any medical problems associated with it, then treatment of the conditions may improve geographic tongue.
  • Discomfort associated with geographic tongue can be cured with a rinse or gargle containing anaesthetic or antiseptic agents.
  • While there is no known cure or commonly prescribed treatment for geographic tongue, there are several ways to suppress the condition, including avoiding foods which exacerbate the problem.
  • Recently it has been found that geographic tongue shows improvement to zinc enhancements such as Solvazinc which is taken orally. This opens up the question as whether the condition is caused by an allergy or a deficiency.


Before trying any antiseptic agents or some other medications, be sure to consult your doctor and follow the measures as suggested to you.

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