People often experience unusual patches on the surface of tongue that may be smooth or sometimes look like islands with slightly raised borders. These patches can be inflammatory but harmless. This pattern of tongue is known as geographic tongue.
Geographic tongue refers to a disease which creates irregular patches on the exterior portion or the surface of the tongue. These patches are medically termed as lesions, an inflammatory disorder, that affects the surface of the tongue. Our tongue is covered by a rough pinkish white mucous membrane along with many small bumps medically known as papillae. When any one experiences this disorder, that rough membrane (i.e. papillae) of the tongue turns into smooth red islands giving the tongue a map like appearance.
Typically geographic tongue has an uncovered, red area depending upon the area of infection. It may be distressful, however not harmful. People often misinterpret them as the symptoms of cancer, infections or any other serious health disease, but it is absolutely harmless. However, being a taste organ of the human body, it may create discomfort against various sensitivity factors like salt, spices, sour etc.
Symptoms & Causes
A Geographic tongue does not always come with any prominent symptoms. Most of the time, people do not notice any change on the surface of the tongue and get to know about the problem after a doctor examination. People can go and see a doctor if they experience the following symptoms –
- Irregular-red shaped patches that are smooth and sensitive exist on the top side of the tongue
- Edges of the lesions may be aroused having a white or light colored border
- Patches or the lesions may vary in terms of shape and size. The frequent change in the location of the lesions can also be noticed
- Pain, discomfort or sensation may arise due to eating acidic food, sweet
Geographic tongue can exist for a day, months even for years also. The disease can resolve on its own and again reinstate any time in future.
The actual reason of the disease is still under darkness, and thus, there are no definite ways to fight with it or to prevent it. However, there are certain risk factors that are associated with a geographic tongue like:
A skin disease where skin cells are built-up on the surface of the skin in a faster way than usual. These extra skin cells lead to scaly skin, which is dry and itchy. It’s quite rare to have psoriasis on the tongue which can be linked with an inflammatory condition that is known as geographic tongue. In other words, geographic tongue is an oral expression of psoriasis.
- Vitamin B deficiency
Lack of vitamin D can lead to geographic tongue. It may also create swelling, inflammation or sensation on the tongue and may ultimately result into a geographic tongue.
Though it sounds strange, pregnancy may be another cause of this disease. As the woman goes through a lot of hormonal changes at the time of pregnancy, as well as the growing fetus takes a lot of vitamins/nutrients from the mother, it may cause lack of vitamins on the body and the person may experience a geographic tongue.
- Genetic history
Genetic history evidencing geographic tongue increases the chances of the disease.
Other reasons can be food habits, allergies, mental stress, psychological factors etc.
There is as such no treatment for this disease, so there is no cure. It disappears on its own over a period of time. In order eliminate the inflammation, a few treatment options can be followed.:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken to reduce to sensation after the consultation with a doctor
- Vitamin B supplements also can be taken to back up the deficiency
- It is advisable to avoid highly flavored toothpaste
- It is also not advisable to take hot, spicy, salty or acidic foods
The best prevention is to follow a proper diet plan and eat food enriched with vitamins!