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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Geographic tongue


Other Names for this Disease

  • Benign migratory glossitis
  • Ectopic geographic tongue
  • Erythema migrans
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is geographic tongue?

What symptoms are seen in geographic tongue?

What causes geographic tongue? Is it genetic?

What treatment is available for geographic tongue?

What is geographic tongue?

Geographic tongue is a condition that causes lesions on the tongue that resemble psoriasis of the skin. The lesions may also occasionally occur in the mucosa of the mouth and labia; this condition is called areata migrans. The lesions typically disappear from one area and move to another. [1][2][3]
Last updated: 7/9/2013

What symptoms are seen in geographic tongue?

The lesions seen in geographic tongue resemble those of psoriasis. Most patients do not experience symptoms. It has been estimated that about 5% of individuals who have geographic tongue complain of sensitivity to hot or spicy foods when the their lesions are active. [2]
Last updated: 7/9/2013

What causes geographic tongue? Is it genetic?

The exact cause of geographic tongue has not been identified. However, because the condition may be present in several members of the same family, genetics may increase a person's chances of developing the condition. A study by GuimarĂ£es (2007) showed that a specific variant of a gene called IL-1B (interleukin-1 beta) is associated with an increased risk of developing geographic tongue and suggests a genetic basis for the development of the disease.[4][5] Further research may result in a better understanding of the genetic influences involved in the development of geographic tongue.
Last updated: 7/9/2013

What treatment is available for geographic tongue?

Because geographic tongue is a benign (harmless) condition and does not typically cause symptoms, treatment is usually unnecessary. Even those patients who experience sensitivity to hot or spicy foods, generally do not require treatment. With severe symptoms, topical corticosteroids, zinc supplements, and topical anesthetic rinses seem to reduce the discomfort in some patients. [2] [3]
Last updated: 7/9/2013

References
  1. Cummings: Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery, 3rd ed. Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 1998;
  2. Rakel: Conn's Current Therapy 2007, 59th ed.. Saunders; 2007;
  3. Gonsalves WC, Chi AC, Neville BW. Common Oral Lesions: Part I. Superficial Mucosal Lesions. American Family Physician. February 2007;
  4. Geographic Tongue. MayoClinic.com. October 20, 2006; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/geographic-tongue/DS00819/DSECTION=3. Accessed 2/13/2008.
  5. GuimarĂ£es AL, Correia-Silva Jde F, Diniz MG, Xavier GM, Horta MC, Gomez RS. Investigation of funcational gene polymorphisms: IL-1B, IL-6, and TNFA in benign migratory glossitis in Brazilian individuals. J Oral Pathol Med. 2007 Oct;


Other Names for this Disease
  • Benign migratory glossitis
  • Ectopic geographic tongue
  • Erythema migrans
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.