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Geographic Tongue Symptoms And Treatment

Geographic tongue may look like a dangerous disorder but it is in fact harmless. The condition presents itself as a tongue with a map-like appearance or geographic features. Some parts of the tongue are shallow or missing and others appears raised with bumps. The irregular red patches often look like a severe rash or infection.

The tongue’s look may seem very alarming but it does not cause any health problem and is not associated with any illness, infection or cancer. The condition is mostly painless. Only a few individuals complain of unusual sensitivity to certain foods. The condition does fluctuate in intensity with one area healing and then the disorder migrating to another part of the tongue.

The classic feature of the tongue are a “map-like contour” with smooth bright red patches mixed with raised surfaces. While the condition is painless, sometime it may cause moderate sensitivity to spicy or hot foods. Other geographic tongue symptoms include white patches which can often be confused with a yeast infection and a sensation of a thick tongue. While the patches on the tongue are usually red, sometimes the outer edges may be marked by a white lining. The affected patches often change in size and shape within minutes or hours, depending on the emotional state of the individual. Geographic tongue symptoms fluctuates in intensity and come and go everyday or every few months.

No one know why this disorder occurs but it is known that it runs in families. Other individuals who are prone to this disorder are those who have a deep fissure in the tongue. One medical condition known to be associated with this tongue disorder is psoriasis. Other factors that may worsen the disorder includes emotional stress, menstrual cycle hormonal changes, allergies, excessive use of corticosteroids and dermatitis.

The disorder can affect people of all ages and is believed to occur in at least 1 to 3 percent of individuals. It is said to be more common in women. The disorder does not cause any complications except for embarrassment which leads to anxiety and shyness.

The diagnosis of this disorder is straight forward . There is no treatment required for the disorder. Although the condition may look unattractive, it is harmless. The basic essence of geographic tongue treatment is to maintain good oral hygiene. For those who have extreme sensitivity to foods, one may use topical anesthetics, mouth rinses or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Mouth rinses do help take the pain away and keep the tongue clean. In rare cases, some individuals may improve slightly with topical corticosteroids.

The consumer should know that geographic tongue treatment requires patience and faith in his/her physician. There is no treatment that can actually cure the disorder. The condition generally resolves spontaneously on its own. The disorder may last 12-24 months and then disappear for a few months. To date no treatment has proven successful but physicians do recommend that to avoid aggravating the disorder one should stop using alcohol, discontinue dried salty nuts, stop smoking and avoid eating spicy foods and drinking acidic beverages. Avoiding heavily flavored toothpastes and tooth pastes containing tartar additives can help reduce frequency of geographic tongue.