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How do I Choose the Best Geographic Tongue Treatment?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Geographic tongue is a condition in which a person’s tongue looks map-like because of red patches that form on it. In most cases, it doesn’t cause pain and isn't harmful, but it can make the tongue more sensitive and cause discomfort when a person eats certain foods. There is no medical need for geographic tongue treatment, which usually heals on its own, but a person may use a variety of treatments for relieving discomfort. The best treatments for geographic tongue may be pain relievers and medications that help to reduce inflammation. Sometimes corticosteroids, which are steroid hormones; zinc supplements; and preventative measures may prove helpful as well.

Typically, geographic tongue heals on its own, but it may come back again or move to another part of the affected person's tongue. While a person with this condition isn't sick or in any type of health-related danger, geographic tongue can be uncomfortable, especially when spicy foods or coffee are consumed. In such a case, a person may use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin, as a geographic tongue treatment. An individual who is attempting to treat geographic tongue this way may need to take repeat doses of over-the-counter medication in order to maintain symptom relief. Patients are usually advised against exceeding the recommended daily dosage without a doctor’s approval, however.

If over-the-counter medications don’t help to relieve symptoms, a person may ask his doctor for help. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe corticosteroids as a geographic tongue treatment. Corticosteroids are steroid hormones that may be administered in a variety of forms. When applied topically, they may provide a measure of symptom relief.

Sometimes a person’s geographic tongue symptoms may be associated with a zinc deficiency. As such, taking a zinc supplement may help to boost the individual’s immune system and prevent or reduce a person’s symptoms. This geographic tongue treatment may not always work, however.

While scientist have yet to discover a way to prevent geographic tongue, there are some ways to prevent the discomfort that may arise from it. For example a person may avoid alcoholic beverages; spicy foods; cigarette and cigar smoke; and acidic foods and beverage to prevent pain or discomfort. He may also do well to avoid toothpastes that have ingredients added to them to whiten the teeth or control tartar. Toothpastes with a lot of flavoring may also make symptoms worse and may be best avoided as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon980623 — On Dec 06, 2014

My dad used to put dandruff shampoo on the tongue and he swears by that. I tried it and it's not nice, obviously. What I noticed was that taking a zinc supplement daily actually made it less "geographical". Almost to the point where you wouldn't notice it.

I have always been very self-aware about it since it is noticeable when its in full bloom, and because of that never wanted to show my tongue to people.

By anon304637 — On Nov 20, 2012

Typically, does Geographic tongue go away eventually or does it persist throughout your entire life?

By julies — On Jan 05, 2012

@myharley - I never knew anything about this until I noticed these small red patches on my tongue that didn't go away.

I have had decent results swishing around warm salt water in my mouth 2-3 times a day. If I am consistent with this, the patches will usually go away in a few days.

I have also gargled and rinsed my mouth with peroxide, but can't hardly stand having peroxide in my mouth like that. It didn't seem to be any more effective than the salt water, so that is what I use most of the time.

I have noticed a connection between acid reflux and getting a break out of geographic tongue. I don't understand the connection, or what causes it, but know that I usually have both of them at the same time.

I may get this a few times a year so it is not real bothersome, but I would like to figure out what causes it.

By myharley — On Jan 04, 2012

Most people have never heard of someone having a geographic tongue. Unless you have this condition yourself, or someone close to you has it, you probably didn't even know it existed.

I am one of those few people who has had bouts of geographic tongue. My dentist is familiar with it, but really didn't have any advice on how to get rid of it.

Most people would not even realize I have this, but it gets to be annoying after awhile. I have tried to figure out what triggers this, but still have no rhyme or reason what causes this strange tongue disease.

Has anybody tried a geographical tongue treatment that actually worked?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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