What is Geographic Tongue?

The digestive tract begins in the mouth. The health of our tongue, teeth, gums and the overall mouth plays a vital role in ensuring an optimum digestive process.

Geographic tongue

is a condition where the surface and texture of the tongue skin undergoes certain changes. Botches of whites appear all over it giving it a map like appearance. There is inflammation on the surface. Apart from discolored patches on different areas of the taste buds, cracks are also sometimes found on the tongue.

This condition affects around 2% of the population.

Incidence in females is three times more than males. It is a chronic condition and is also known by the name of benign migratory glossitis.

Geographic Tongue

Causes of Geographic Tongue

  • Hypersensitivity to environmental allergens causing conditions like allergies, eczema and the like. It is often a fall out of certain food allergies.
  • Everyday stress of life.
  • A high sugar or processed food diet.
  • Irritability to hot, spicy food or alcohol.
  • Vitamin B deficiencies are also thought to cause it.
  • Hormonal changes in women as in pregnancy, ovulation, being on birth control pills increases the occurrence.
  • The disease is also linked to psoriasis. Psoriasis is an auto immune disorder where discolored patches appear on the skin.

Symptoms of this condition

  • Tongue surface starts looking like a map.
  • The patches change in size and position everyday.
  • Small little projections on the surface of the tongue are called papillae. They are made up of receptor cells which induces the taste of the food being eaten. This particular condition causes a loss of the taste buds giving rise to a smooth surface. Sores, redness and ulcers are associated with this change of texture of the skin.
  • Burning feeling, discomfort, difficulty in chewing and swallowing food is associated with this condition.
  • Sometimes patients have reported trouble speaking.

Treatment of Geographic Tongue

  • Treatment is generally palliative in nature which takes care of relieving symptoms.
  • Antihistamine gels and steroid mouth washes are recommended sometimes.
  • Vitamin B supplements are known to help.
  • Avoiding hot, spicy food and alcohol which might cause irritation can help.
  • When this condition is induced by certain fruit intake like pineapple, tomatoes and strawberries using zinc supplements have shown a marked improvement.
  • Taking anti histamines provide relief in case the burning feeling inside the mouth is getting out of hand.
  • Chewing mint leaves or mint candy also helps bring a calm.


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