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Geographic tongue: symptoms, causes, treatment & tips

Geographic tongue: symptoms, causes, treatment & tips

Created: September 28, 2022 | Updated: March 22, 2024

Worried about the smooth, red spots on your tongue with white edges? Don’t worry, you probably suffer from geographic tongue (lingua geographica) or a hairy tongue, a harmless condition that affects the surface of the tongue. In this comprehensive blog post, we discuss everything you need to know about landmark tongue, from symptoms and causes to treatments and preventive tips.

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What is a geographic tongue?

Geographic tongue, also called Lingua geographica in the medical world, is a benign condition affecting the surface of the tongue. The smooth, red spots with white edges resemble a map, hence the name. The condition is not contagious and can occur at any age, but is more common in adults aged between 20 and 40. About 1 to 2% of the population suffers from it.

Symptoms of a geographic tongue

Despite looking strange, a landcard tongue is harmless and not contagious. Geographic tongue is on the upper surface of the tongue. These are smooth red spots surrounded by a white-grey batter. The red spots occur because the tongue papillae have become much smaller (atrophy). The red spots recover continuously and then reappear in a different place on the tongue.

  • Smooth, red spots on the tongue
  • White edges around the red spots
  • Stringing or tingling sensation (in rare cases)
  • Pain while eating or drinking (rare)
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Map tongue cause symptoms

What are the causes of a geographic tongue?

Doctors still do not know exactly what the exact cause of a map tongue is. It does often occur within the same families. Genes and hereditary factor therefore probably play an important role in whether or not you get a card tongue. Symptoms may also get worse due to the following risk factors:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Strongly spicy or acidic foods

Treatment of a land card tongue

There is no cure for a geographic tongue, but symptoms usually disappear on their own within a few weeks or months. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to relieve pain or burning. 1

Geographic tongue prevention

A healthy diet, good oral hygiene and avoiding triggers (such as highly spicy foods) can help prevent landmark tongue. If there is a vitamin deficiency, it is advisable to supplement it with healthy food and aids such as tablets. In addition, it is wise to always take good care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly. Also, visit the dentist and dental hygienist twice a year. Use a tongue scraper and toothpaste or toothpaste tablets suitable for sensitive teeth.

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  • plus iconAnti-bacterial stainless steel
  • plus iconSuitable for every tongue
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Frequently asked questions

Map tongue, also called lingua geographica in the medical world, is a benign condition of the tongue. It involves an abnormal surface of the tongue. It is characterised by smooth spots interspersed with white areas and lines. This pattern resembles a map, hence the name 'map tongue'.

There can be several causes of a map tongue. In fact, doctors still don't know exactly what is the exact cause of a map tongue. Genes and hereditary factor often play an important role. Symptoms can also get worse due to the following risk factors: stress, vitamin deficiency, psoriasis, atopic eczema, allergies (atopic eczema or hay fever), diabetes, anaemia, diabetes or highly spicy or acidic food.

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