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Symptoms and causes of geographic tongue

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Geographic tongue is an inflammatory problem that affects the surface of your tongue. When this happens, your tongue will be covered with tiny, pinkish white bumps or papillae which are short, hair-like projections. There will be some patches on the surface which will not have papillae and as a result, the surface of your tongue looks like full of islands with slightly raised borders. Because of the patches, your tongue gets a map like or geographic appearance and so it is known as geographic tongue.

The patches or lesions can move from one area to another on the surface of the tongue. It can also cause tongue discomfort and more sensitivity to some substances like spices, salt and sweets.

Symptoms of geographic tongue

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of geographic tongue-

  • smooth, red, irregularly shaped patches or lesions on the top of your tongue
  • frequent changes in the size, location and shape of lesions
  • discomfort, burning sensation or pain in some cases, especially when you eat spicy or acidic food

Many people who suffer from geographic tongue also do not have any symptoms. It may continue for days, months or years.


The cause of geographic tongue is unknown. It is also not possible to prevent the condition. There may be some links between geographic tongue and other problems.

Risk factors

Several scientific studies studied the factors which are associated with a higher risk of geographic tongue. The fact is that can result in an increase the risk of this problem include,

Family history-some people who have geographic tongue may have a family history of this problem. If you inherited some genetic factors they may increase the risk of suffering from this medical condition.

Fissured tongue-people who suffer from geographic tongue often have another disorder which is known as fissured tongue. This condition creates deep grooves or fissures on the surface of the tongue.


People who suffer from this problem may often suffer from anxiety about the condition. Anxiety is very common and it may happen because of

The appearance of the tongue may be embarrassing. If the lesions are easily visible when you talk and eat or open your mouth, it can be very embarrassing for you especially in social gatherings. Such an embarrassment may lead to anxiety and that can create other problems for you.

People who suffer from this problem cannot be reassured that it is possible to treat the problem easily with the right method and it will go away. That may alone can create more anxiety in patients who suffer from this problem.

Went to see a doctor

Geographic tongue is a minor problem but sometimes it can be very uncomfortable. In that case, you need to treat this problem and eliminate it completely. The lesions that appear on the town may indicate other more serious conditions of the tongue. They may also indicate other problems in your body. If you have those lesions on your tongue for more than 10 days and it is not going away, it is very important to see a doctor and dentist immediately. Going to the doctor at the right time may save you from lots of trouble in future.


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