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Geographic Tongue

What is geographic tongue?

Geographic tongue is a condition where the tongue develops smooth red patches of various shapes and sizes. The pattern resembles a map and can change from week to week. The bare spots are painless and the child does not lose the sense of taste.

The condition usually occurs in children under age 6.

What is the cause?

The cause is unknown. It may be related to hormones, food sensitivities, or other causes. It is not due to a vitamin deficiency.

How long does it last?

The tongue returns to normal appearance after a period of months to years.

What is the treatment?

The condition is harmless. No treatment is helpful or necessary.

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2007-03-15
Last reviewed: 2015-06-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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