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Have you developed red, smooth patches on your tongue which change in size and shape and resemble islands on a map? If so, then you may geographic tongue, a condition that also goes by the names of erythema migrans and benign migratory glossitis. You may have several questions about geographic tongue, so keep reading for some of the answers below.

Is Geographic Tongue Harmful?

As you can tell from the name benign migratory glossitis, geographic tongue does not harm you. It is not an infection and cannot develop into cancer. The most harm this condition can cause is a mild discomfort or a burning sensation for some when they eat acidic, salty, hot, or spicy foods.

Do I Have Geographic Tongue?

Geographic tongue is typically accompanied by the appearance of red, irregularly-shaped patches. If you develop patches on your tongue that do not go away after a week or two, then see you dentist or doctor for diagnosis. Though geographic tongue is harmless, other conditions with similar symptoms are not.

Can Geographic Tongue Be Treated?

Geographic tongue has no known cause, which can makes treatment difficult. But since this condition is benign, treatment usually isn’t required. Often geographic tongue goes away on its own after a few months or years, though it may reoccur. If you do experience discomfort from geographic tongue, your dentist may recommend using an anesthetic mouthwash, avoiding tobacco and foods that aggravate your tongue, applying a corticosteroid ointment, or taking pain relievers.