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going bald ... on my tongue?!


I wish I could post a pic here, because it's hard to explain. However, anyone out there who's had this problem will probably know exactly what I mean!

Periodically, it looks like I have bald spots on my tongue - most of the surface has that normal, vaguely pink-whitish look, but the "bald" spots have some taste buds around the edges that are enlarged with teeny pinky-red taste buds in the middle (they almost look like new taste buds?). These spots change in size and migrate somewhat until they disappear after a few days. Then I usually have another round a few weeks later.

This is a new thing. I asked the dentist but he didn't know what I was talking about and I didn't happen to have anything to show him during my appointment. I will go next time I have something, but in the meantime I wondered if any of you have experienced this?
Oct 23, 2007 @ 10:09 am

17 Replies



I had never heard of that...so I looked it up and this is what I have found...


Geographic Tongue is an annoying condition where the tongue develops "Bald" patches often surrounded with a thin white line. It is not considered serious or life threatening by doctors. These patches are called "denuded" meaning that the "papillae" or little bumps on the tongue have actually fallen off. Fortunately the papillae tend to replace themselves in 7 to 10 days.

If you have Geographic Tongue and watch it carefully, as I have, you will notice that the replacement process is what gives the tongue the appearance of the patches moving around on the tongue. This by the way is where the technical name (Migratory Glossitis) for geographic tongue comes from. It appears to me that as the older papillae fall off they aren't replaced quickly enough so the bald patches develop. After a few days new "baby papillae" start to appear within the bald patch but by then another spot is losing its bumps.

Doctors are basically clueless about the cause and treatment of Geographic Tongue although a few studies have been done. Unfortunately, those studies are mostly statistical in nature. They have found that roughly 3% of the world's population has geographic tongue. They also found that more women than men seem to get Geographic Tongue and also that women on birth control pills seem to experience the worst symptoms on day 17. From this they surmise that the problem may be related to hormones. Also people with already weakened systems like those with asthma, allergies, eczema and immune deficiencies seem to get it more often than more "healthy" people.

In addition, people who are extra sensitive to the environment tend to get geographic tongue as well. These are people who already have conditions like asthma, allergies or eczema. Several studies have found that geographic tongue tends to run in families. But they haven't found any definite pattern of inheritance like you find with eye color or tongue rolling. It is possible that the reason for this tendency is that the nutritional intake within the family is also very similar resulting in the same condition.

Unfortunately, most researchers have not looked into the nutritional aspects of geographic tongue although some research has been done in Europe and Asia. Findings have shown that there are several nutrients that will cause geographic tongue like symptoms. As a matter of fact deficiencies in several vitamins including the B- Vitamins have been classified as the direct cause of tongue problems. It is therefore likely that the other factors like hormones and tendency to occur with in people with weak immune systems and other problems may be a result of vitamin deficiencies related to those problems rather than genetics or other reasons for correlation.

Source: http://www.geographictongue.org/

Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

great information, MR!

I have never heard of this condition and will definitely read the links you posted - thanks! While some of the descriptors don't fit me at all, I did notice this beginning after I gave birth last time (18 months ago). So it is very possible my hormones are all out of wack. My chiropractor told me this (wacky hormones) during my last maintenance checkup and I was surprised because I otherwise feel fine. I'm not on the pill either. hmmm. I will definitely find out about B-vites and will mention it to the dentist next time I go.

Thanks again!
Oct 23, 2007 @ 04:28 pm

I'm Not Alone

I too have those nagging spots that grow from small spots and take over the entire tongue before they seem to regenerate brand new taste buds .Wierd.I have asked my dentist about this too and get the same answer.No one knows . I lead a healthy life but could have a better diet as I am always watching what I eat which doesn't always include my fruits and veggies.I do however ,have athsma .Not a severe case ,Just the occassional allergy flair up.
But one good thing ..... Hasnt effected my appetite or taste one bit .lol !
I will give the 'ol Vitamin B a try .See what happens .I'll let ya know fer sure.
Oct 29, 2008 @ 04:01 am

Wow, forgot about this thread!

I did end up asking my dentist and he confirmed that it was geographic tongue. About 6 months or so later it just went away and I haven't had a problem since.
Oct 29, 2008 @ 05:52 pm


My friend , how did you cure it?
Oct 30, 2008 @ 07:28 am

thanks so much

I noticed this on my tongue yesterday. I'm so glad I found this site. However, I don't have any of the medical problems listed, such as Asthma. Also, I just started taking vitamin B supplements about 3 weeks ago, with my regular vitamins.

Dec 05, 2008 @ 10:30 pm


Janer - all I can tell you is that I'm working on reducing my stress
levels. At the time of the worst flare up I was very stressed about a
particular situation which has since been resolved. I know that stress
can wreak havoc on hormonal balance and weaken the immune system, so I
assume that was my problem. Haven't had a flare up since (knock on
Dec 08, 2008 @ 08:01 am

I have them too

Hi I apparantly am in that 3% I do get those patches. But most recently In my early pregnancy they just pop up so I believe its the hormones cause my prenatals r providing me with vitamin B6 i was worried and thats how i found ur blog but after reading the helpful response i can relax. One less thing to worry about in pregnancy.
Apr 24, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

I have it too.

What you describe is indeed Geographic Tongue. It is not a disease or illness. It can, however be aggravated by different foods. For me it is Sour Patch Gummy Bears...hahaha. It goes away on its own after a bit. More annoying than anything. I will dive into my nursing books to find you more info. No worries..it won't kill you and it is not cancer. :)
Jul 16, 2013 @ 12:50 am
VT 2014

I just noticed two bald spots on my tougue

Thanks guys this was helpful. I have mouth sores for a few days now and suddenly last night when I was applying gel on my sores I noticed this and it scared me. I have been visiting clinics for one or the other reason in last 4 months and I am tired of it. I don't have to worry about it after reading this blog. I hope mine is temporary and it vanishes too.

I must add every time before my periods I do experience a flu, a bad headache, or some other form of ailments. This time i had mouth sores and by the time I got done with my periods I have bald spots on my tongue. I do have copper IUD implanted for birth control.

I will try Vitamin B and see what happens.
Feb 20, 2014 @ 01:04 pm

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