What is Geographic Tongue?
This is a medical condition, not an infection or disease, which creates inflammation and red or pink patches on the sides and surface of your tongue resembling a mountain ridge. It can occur in other parts of your mouth also. Although it can affect any one in any age group it usually affects middle age to older adults or children under the age of four. It is not a common condition and only affects three percent of the total population in the world. It is also more prominent in women than men. It might look like a serious condition but it actually causes the least pain It is also a chronic condition. Most people are unaware that they even have this medical condition until it is diagnosed during an oral exam by your dentist or physician.
The term comes from the visual appearance that this condition causes to the surface of your tongue. It forms a map like appearance on your tongue’s surface. There are only certain areas of your tongue that gets infected and causes an inflammation to create this map like pattern. Other names for this condition include Benign migratory glossitis which is when these patches will move every three to four hours and you will see a different structure, lingua geographica, or erythema migrans.
When a person has Geographic Tongue some of the most visible sign/symptoms includes:
- A bumpy surface
- Discoloration of your tongue
- Cracks on your tongue
- Irregular swollen beefy red patches that changes location frequently
- Patches bordered by a white, yellow, or gray lining.
- Tongue numbness
- Varies in shape, size, and color
These conditions can vary and may come and go in a short period of time. They can also last a long time, sometimes as long as nine months. Other symptoms/signs can be:
- Sensitivity or allergic reaction to certain foods—sour and spicy foods can aggravate even mild conditions.
- Irritation which can be to certain foods and even smoking
- Increase sensitivity of your tongue for certain fruits and vegetables like pineapple, tomatoes, strawberries, etc
- Not everyone affected by this medical condition will have the burning sensation.
One of the main causes for Geographic Tongue is the missing papillae on your tongue’s surface. If your tongue is healthy the entire surface will be covered with papillae, which are small bumpy granules. Although it is not known why there are times your skin will shed this texture causing this medical condition.
Other causes include:
- Heredity, which is one of the most common causes. This condition can be carried in your genes.
- Certain foods
- Some products like mouthwash, chewing gum, tooth whitening agents, and toothpaste that have strong substances and flavors can irritate your tongue
- Smoking and tobacco
- People who are extremely sensitive to the environment with conditions such as allergies, eczema, psoriasis, and fissured tongue are very susceptible to Geographic Tongue.
- Having health problems like asthma, diabetes, or anemia
- Certain vitamin deficiencies like vitamin B, zinc, or folic acid
- Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy or ovulation.
- Some people get this medical condition from eating dairy products and cheese
- Eating a diet that is high in processed foods or sugars
Although it is not a cause for Geographic Tongue, being under stress can worsen the condition. In addition it is not contagious and you cannot get it by kissing a person with Geographic Tongue or eating with them. It does not spread from person to person.
Most of the time Geographic Tongue will fade without any type of treatment but in some cases you may require medical help. You cannot completely cure this medical condition but you can take medication to help you deal with it plus help lessen your pain. You can also help suppress this condition by avoiding any foods that exacerbate the problem. Some of the treatments that are recommended include:
- Mouthwashes that contain antiseptics
- Anesthetic agents
- Corticosteroids that are applied directly on your tongue
- Pain relievers
- Taking vitamin E or zinc supplements
- Chewing on mint leaves
- Antihistamines if you experience a burning sensation
- If you are under stress you can try meditation and a change in your lifestyle
After treatments you should see improvement after a couple of days.
Geographic Tongue Pictures
Images, Pictures and Photos of Geographic Tongue…