ABC Medical Center > Geographic tongue

What is Geographic tongue?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is a harmless inflammatory condition of the tongue that affects its surface by leaving areas without taste buds that cause an appearance of islets with a smooth reddened texture that gives the tongue a cartographic or map-like appearance, which coined the term geographic tongue.

These are lesions that appear in one place, and then disappear and go to another area. Hence its clinical name of the benign migratory glottis.

Although its appearance seems to be caused by a serious condition, geographic tongue is not usually associated with any serious illness, nor does it cause any complications, except for certain hypersensitivity to intensely flavored condiments. It can affect people of any age, but it is more common in children, young people, and middle-aged people.

Signs and symptoms Geographic tongue

Most people with this condition do not have any symptoms, but the following may occur occasionally:

  • Lingual surface with reddened and smooth protruding irregular islets.
  • Map appearance on the surface of the tongue.
  • Migratory lesions that constantly change their morphology and location.
  • Irritation when eating spicy foods.
  • Tongue hypersensitivity.

This condition’s duration is variable, it can last a few weeks, several months, or even years. In addition to that, it can reappear regularly.

Geographic tongue is not usually related to any disease, but if it lasts for more than a few weeks, it is advisable to consult your doctor to rule out that it is not a sign of an underlying condition.

The possible causes of its appearance have not yet been identified, but there are some potential risks to developing it:

  • Psoriasis.
  • Vitamin B deficiency.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Smoking.
  • Excessive consumption of irritating foods.
  • Habit of eating very hot food and drinks.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Stress.

Diagnosis and treatment Geographic tongue

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination that will include an exhaustive examination of your tongue to verify if there are no infections and to properly categorize your type of lesions.

Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and relieving tongue sensitivity, so your doctor will prescribe the following medications:

  • Painkillers.
  • Antibiotics, in case of any secondary infection.
  • Anesthetics in oral solutions.
  • Antihistamines in mouthwash.
  • Corticosteroid mouthwash.
  • Vitamin B.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • De la Teja-Ángeles E, Durán-Gutiérrez LA, Tovar-Malváez DP, et al. Eritema migrans (lengua geográfica). Acta Pediatr Mex. 2011;32(6):357-358.
  • Rodríguez-García R, Rodríguez-Guzmán LM. Lengua geográfica o glositis migratoria benigna en niños. Rev Mex Pediatr. 2011;78(3):118-119.
  • Vidal MAM, Jiménez MMC, Luna RLM. Prevalencia de alteraciones linguales y factores relacionados en niños que consultan a la Universidad de Cartagena, Colombia. Rev Odont Mex. 2013;17(4):235-239.
  • Reynoso LA, Mendoza NVM. Magnitud de lesiones bucales de tejidos blandos en niños de 1 a 6 años de edad de la Ciudad de México. Rev ADM. 2004;61(2):65-69.

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