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What Is Median Rhomboid Glossitis?

Median rhomboid glossitis is a unique condition where a smooth, red patch appears on the center of the tongue, often resembling a rhombus. It's linked to a fungal infection and can cause discomfort. Intrigued by how this condition develops and the treatments available? Discover the visual journey and expert insights into managing this oral anomaly as we explore further. What could be the underlying causes?
Helena Reimer
Helena Reimer

Also known as central papillary atrophy, median rhomboid glossitis is one of the cutaneous conditions that affects the organ system. In this case, the affected organ is the tongue, which can appear smooth and inflamed. The condition can also cause raised bumps, fissures, and discolorations on the tongue. Due to the appearance of the lesions, median rhomboid glossitis is often mistaken for a cancerous tumor. Treatments, other than antifungal treatments, are generally not given for this condition.

The condition can affect adults, as well as young children and nursing infants. In most cases, the lesions appear toward the center and back of the tongue. The infected area resembles the shape of a rhomboid and usually is not larger than 3/4 inch (about 2 cm). The papillae generally disappear in that particular area, which then causes the tongue to appear smooth and inflamed. The tongue can also appear red, have yellow spots, or have a white coating.

Median glossitis affects the tongue and may cause discoloration.
Median glossitis affects the tongue and may cause discoloration.

Median rhomboid glossitis causes are unknown, however, the condition has been linked to a candida overgrowth. Candida tends to create an environment that generally results in poor oral health as it prevents harmful bacteria from being washed away. Another possible cause might be excess force exerted from the tongue during speaking or swallowing.

At one point, it was believed that this condition occurred due to a birth defect. The theory, however, has been dismissed because the condition is more commonly discovered in adults. In general, the condition does not seem to be contagious, but in rare cases, it can be contracted by an individual with a weak immune system.

The papillae may disappear from the affected area of the tongue in median rhomboid glossitis.
The papillae may disappear from the affected area of the tongue in median rhomboid glossitis.

Information regarding changes in diet and lifestyle as well as a medical history can help in diagnosing median rhomboid glossitis. Tests can be done to rule out other possible diseases, such as cancer, geographic tongue, and candida. A lack of nutrients and chemical burns are also considered because they can also cause similar lesions to appear on the tongue.

Median rhomboid glossitis, which affects the tongue, is often mistaken for a cancerous tumor.
Median rhomboid glossitis, which affects the tongue, is often mistaken for a cancerous tumor.

Common median rhomboid glossitis treatment involves the use of antifungal remedies. These remedies are given in cases when candida is present, as it helps eliminate the candida and the inflammation associated with it. Dentures and other mouth appliances are also treated with the antifungal treatments to stop the candida from spreading. Although these treatments can help clear the candida, they are not always effective at clearing the lesions. Raised lesions can be effectively removed with surgery.

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Discussion Comments

ParallelLine

I have also read that using corticosteroid sprays and inhalers may make someone more predisposed to tongue glossitis.

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    • Median glossitis affects the tongue and may cause discoloration.
      By: By Median_Glossitis.jpg:derivative work: Jbarta - This file was derived fromMedian Glossitis.jpg:, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24505357
      Median glossitis affects the tongue and may cause discoloration.
    • The papillae may disappear from the affected area of the tongue in median rhomboid glossitis.
      By: Sebastian Kaulitzki
      The papillae may disappear from the affected area of the tongue in median rhomboid glossitis.
    • Median rhomboid glossitis, which affects the tongue, is often mistaken for a cancerous tumor.
      By: snapgalleria
      Median rhomboid glossitis, which affects the tongue, is often mistaken for a cancerous tumor.
    • Dental bridges, dentures and other mouth appliances are treated with antifungals to help prevent infection.
      By: milosljubicic
      Dental bridges, dentures and other mouth appliances are treated with antifungals to help prevent infection.