Geographic Tongue Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Remedies

You might have noticed and experienced that many times your tongue starts irritating you without no reason. Sometimes it forms reddish map around your tongue too. Have you wondered why? What exactly are these reddish, map-like structures? To those who are unaware of this term, they might be having Geographic Tongue Syndrome or GTS.

What Exactly Is Geographic Tongue Syndrome?

GTS is a harmless condition that affects the surface of your tongue. Normally, your tongue is covered with pinkish-white, and tiny bumps known as Papillae. These tiny bumps are fine, hair-like and short in appearance.

When you are suffering from Geographic Tongue Syndrome, the patches or the bumps disappear from the particular area from tongue’s surface and projects a red and smooth area or map-like appearance with white or red borders.

Geographic Tongue Syndrome

These patches or the lesions are often tending to heal themselves and then travel to different tongue region. This syndrome is also known as Benign Migratory Glossitis.

As per reports, the Geographic Tongue Syndrome is common among humans and does not cause any health issues or is not associated with any harmful infections. But this may cause your tongue discomfort and can increase sensitivity. Consuming acidic, spicy, sweet or salty food can also cause tongue discomfort or irritation.

Causes Of Geographic Tongue Syndrome

According to health experts, the cause of this tongue syndrome is still unknown, and there is no way to prevent this condition. As per doctors, this tongue condition can possibly have connections with lichen planus or psoriasis, but there is no official statement by health experts with regards to these possible link-ups.

It is also found that this syndrome can tend to affect whole families, giving health experts a hint of genetics as a common link. There have been several factors proposed as a valid cause of this tongue irritation such as unhealthy habits, allergies, hormonal disturbance, emotional stress, diabetes, and psychological factors but none of these aspects turn out to be the reason for geographic tongue syndrome.

Geographic Tongue Syndrome Can Be Genetic

Some health experts came up with vitamin deficiency in people that might lead to this tongue disorder. Deficiencies of the nutrients such as vitamin B, B12, iron, and folate can cause this syndrome. The deficiency of B12 can also make your tongue red and sore.

Geographic Tongue Syndrome Symptoms

According to studies, this syndrome is an inflammatory condition that can affect anyone for any age, but mainly to middle-aged people. One report suggested that women tend to get affected more than men. But how to know that you have this tongue syndrome? The following are the signs and symptoms that might help you understand more.

  • Tongue discomfort and burning sensation
  • Irregular shaped lesions or patches on your tongue
  • Smooth, red and map-like structure
  • Random changes in size, location, and shapes
  • Discomfort or pain while eating spicy or acidic food items.

Geographic Tongue Syndrome Symptoms - Spicy Food Causes Discomfort

Health experts believe that this syndrome can continue to irritate you and your tongue for days, months and even years. This syndrome often finds its own way to get rid of from the tongue, but there can be possibilities to appear again.

Risks Of Geographic Tongue Syndrome

After the years of research, doctors have found that the increase of this syndrome can have mixed results on people. Here are some of the aspects that can be likely to be associated with the increased risk such as:

  • Family history: Some of the studies have also found a link between geographic tongue syndrome and genetics. Some families can have the history of this disorder that can keep continuing from people to people. Inherited genetic factors can increase the risk and complications.
  • Fissured tongue: It is often found that people who are suffering from this syndrome tend to have another disorder such as Fissured Tongue. This disorder has the appearance of deep cracks and fissures on tongue’s surface.

Fissured Tongue

Complications Reported From People

This benign condition has been reported to have no threats to health, increase major health problem risks and cause long-term complications. But might increase your stress about such tongue disorder.

Here are some of the complications that you can face while suffering from geographic tongue.

  • This disorder might limit your food consumption restricting you to eat acidic, salty or spicy food.
  • It might be embarrassing as these lesions can be visible, depending upon the situation.

When To Visit Doctor’s Clinic?

Health experts claim that geographic tongue syndrome is a not a major issue and cannot severely affect your health. However, lesions can cause a disease that can affect the body in general or can affect tongue with more severe disorders.

When To See Doctor for Geographic Tongue Syndrome

As per studies, these lesions can stay until 7 to 10 days; however, if there is no change in the condition even after 10 days, then you can see your doctor or dentist and get beneficial advice from them.

Home Remedies For Geographic Tongue Syndrome

If you are not willing to consume the high dose medicines from the doctors and long-term treatments, then you can merely try these home remedies that can help you in resolving your tongue irritation.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Drink lots of liquids such as water or fresh juices, even if it creates discomfort to your tongue. Healthy hydration can motivate saliva production that can promote a proper oral health. For the time being, you can avoid sugar, beverages and alcoholic intakes that can help you treat this disorder.

Drink Water

Aloe Vera

The healing and anti-inflammatory properties of this natural plant can help you treat geographic tongue syndrome. Not only Aloe Vera aids this unhealthy tongue condition, but it can also help in treating various oral problems, including bad breath. Apply the gel of the Aloe Vera daily and rinse with lukewarm water after 10 minutes.

Aloe Vera


This herb can help combat the growth of bacteria in the mouth due to the presence of antibacterial properties. As per health experts, mint can also freshen your breath and protect your tongue from burning sensations. Chew fresh mint daily or drink a cold and strong cup of tea daily.

Mint Leaves


Now you know that the lack of oral care can invite some of the harmful and harmless health problems. We believe that from now you would be extra protective towards to your oral health and tongue. We suggest you lower some of the unhealthy habits that can help you prevent geographic tongue syndrome. Here are some suggestions:

  • Unhealthy and junk food intake
  • Cigarette and weed smoking
  • Alcohol intake

Also Read: Simple Tips On Maintaining Oral Health

By reducing these habits, you can see the changes in your oral and overall health.


About Jessica J

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica J. Follow me on Pinterest & LinkedIn.

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