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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
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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 Guimarães (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.[1][2] Further research may result in a better understanding of the genetic influences involved in the development of geographic tongue.
Last updated: 7/9/2013

  1. Geographic Tongue. October 20, 2006; Accessed 2/13/2008.
  2. Guimarães 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;