Learn About Geographic Tongue

What is the definition of Geographic Tongue?

Geographic tongue is characterized by irregular patches on the surface of the tongue. This gives it a map-like appearance.

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What are the alternative names for Geographic Tongue?

Patches on the tongue; Tongue - patchy; Benign migratory glossitis; Glossitis - benign migratory

What are the causes of Geographic Tongue?

The exact cause of geographic tongue is unknown. It may be caused by a lack of vitamin B. It also may be due to irritation from hot or spicy foods, or alcohol. The condition appears to be less common in smokers.

The change in pattern on the surface of the tongue occurs when there is a loss of the tiny, finger-like projections, called papillae, on the tongue. These areas look flat as a result. The appearance of the tongue may change very quickly. The flat-looking areas may remain for more than a month.

What are the symptoms of Geographic Tongue?

Symptoms include:

  • Map-like appearance to the surface of the tongue
  • Patches that move from day to day
  • Smooth, red patches and sores (lesions) on the tongue
  • Soreness and burning pain (in some cases)
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What are the current treatments for Geographic Tongue?

No treatment is needed. Antihistamine gel or steroid mouth rinses may help ease discomfort.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Geographic Tongue?

Geographic tongue is a harmless condition. It may be uncomfortable and last for a long time.

When should I contact a medical professional for Geographic Tongue?

Contact your provider if the symptoms last longer than 10 days. Seek medical help right away if:

  • You have breathing problems.
  • Your tongue is severely swollen.
  • You have problems speaking, chewing, or swallowing.
How do I prevent Geographic Tongue?

Avoid irritating your tongue with hot or spicy food or alcohol if you are prone to this condition.

What are the latest Geographic Tongue Clinical Trials?
Different Duration and Dosing of Amoxicillin in Patients With Erythema Migrans. A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Summary: The purpose of this study is to compare the efficacy of different amoxicilline treatment regimens in patients with erythema migrans.

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Effectiveness of Zinc Supplementation in Management of Patients With Symptomatic Benign Migratory Glossitis: A Randomized Control Clinical and Biochemical Study

Summary: Effectiveness of Zinc Supplementation in management of patients with symptomatic Benign Migratory Glossitis. Zinc supplements seems to be a therapeutic option as Migratory glossitis is a chronic disease knowing that it needs no treatment. Zinc deficiency can probably be a causative factor in filiform papillae atrophy. Studies have mentioned the role of zinc in wound healing and maintaining a healt...

What are the Latest Advances for Geographic Tongue?
Taste and Pain Response in Burning Mouth Syndrome With and Without Geographic Tongue.
Photobiomodulation Effect of Low-level Laser Therapy as a Palliative Treatment of Symptomatic Geographic Tongue (A Double-blinded Randomized Clinical Trial).
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Transverse venous sinus stenting for idiopathic intracranial hypertension: Safety and feasibility.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: February 01, 2021
Published By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Daniels TE, Jordan RC. Diseases of the mouth and salivary glands. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 397.

James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Disorders of the mucous membranes. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 34.

Pham KL, Mirowski GW. Oral diseases and oral manifestations of gastrointestinal and liver disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 24.