Geographic Tongue: A Real Pain in the Mouth

Even in my earliest memories about food, I can remember the terrible consequences that would follow when I ate any meal which combined tomatoes and citrus together. Most often it happened if I drank orange juice and ate something with ketchup on it–within minutes, my tongue felt as if it had raised, painful ridges on it, red ridges which itched and burned like crazy and would not be soothed with drinking anything. Ice relief lasted only as long as the ice lasted in my mouth, and then the aggravating itch and burn would be back. Sometimes I resorted to scraping my tongue with my teeth or fingernails, which didn’t really help but made me feel a little less powerless against this until it finally went away (it usually took about an hour).

My mother always called this condition “geographic tongue,” and I learned that members of both sides of my family had experienced this reaction to certain foods or combinations of foods. For my immediate family, we quickly learned to avoid the tomato/citrus combination for my sake, and I became more aware of what I was about to eat. But sometimes it snuck up on me, or I forgot about it until it was too late–like the time I ate a slice of cheese pizza slathered in tomato sauce along with a citrusy drink for school lunch. (Let’s just say getting through third block was VERY interesting…)

However, while doing a bit of casual Googling and Wikipedia-ing about this topic, I noticed that there is more to “geographic tongue” than a simple, silly-sounding temporary food reaction. In fact, this is a medical condition, one that explains far more about my own gustatory habits.

What Exactly IS Geographic Tongue? (Warning, Picture Ahead)

Geographic tongue, aka “benign migratory glossitis” or “erythema migrans,” is a harmless mouth condition that affects about 3 percent of adults around the world. (Yay, I feel special now, LOL.) It seems to be more common in middle-aged and older adults than children, and more common in women than men. Upon eating foods with high acid content or strong flavors (it varies among sufferers), the tongue burns, stings, and/or itches. And, if you look at a geographic tongue, you’ll see patches of red and white all over it in map-like formations which give the condition its name.

As an example: my own tongue.

tongue As you can see, my tongue looks pretty strange–it has always looked patchy like this, even in my childhood. (Bonus: not only do I have strange patterns all over it, but I also have deep fissures in my tongue, which often appear in people with geographic tongue–you can see a big one running right down the center of my tongue in this pic, and there are other smaller ones as well. These fissures tend to exacerbate geographic tongue, producing swelling when already irritating foods get down into the fissures.)

The reason all these weird patches show up is because my tongue is missing papillae (the things that contain taste buds) on the redder parts of my tongue, while the lighter parts have papillae in abundance. The areas of darker and lighter red can change places at random, so you can never tell exactly what my tongue is going to look like (LOL). This “missing papillae” phenomenon doesn’t sound like much, but apparently it’s really important when it comes to processing strong flavors or acidic foods. People still don’t really know why it happens.

Is It Contagious/Dangerous?

If you’re one of the 3% of human beings who has this, do not fret: this is NOT a precancerous/cancerous condition, but rather a “minor annoyance” condition, at least as doctors classify it. (Ha, it doesn’t FEEL minor when it’s happening and you can’t do squat about it!) Also, it seems to have nothing to do with oral hygiene, though a lack of said hygiene can make geographic tongue worse in some cases. If you develop very painful sores or swelling on your tongue that keeps you from breathing correctly, however, get to a doctor ASAP.

Geographic tongue is not contagious; it appears to be purely hereditary, and the same people who have geographic tongue often have allergies, asthma, eczema, and/or are more susceptible to hay fever. There are also suspected links to anemia and psoriasis as well. (Yep, all this is in my family, too. [sarcasm] YAY. [/sarcasm]) Lastly, there may be a connection between geographic tongue and celiac disease, though more research needs to be done.

What Can Cause Geographic Tongue to Flare Up?


Oral Products

Other Triggers

  • Spicy foods (esp. chilies, chili powder/chili sauce)
  • Citrus fruits, especially pineapple
  • Sour foods
  • Oregano
  • Walnuts & pecans
  • Raw spinach
  • Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Really strong cheeses (like bleu cheese)
  • Strongly-flavored candy (esp. peppermint, chocolate, and cinnamon)
  • Alcohol
  • Mouthwashes (esp. with strong flavors)
  • Whitening toothpastes
  • Tobacco (esp. chewing tobacco)
  • Environmental sensitivity (see previous section on heredity)
  • Stress (possibly)
  • Diets high in sugar or processed foods (possibly; needs more research)
  • Vitamin B deficiency
  • Psoriasis flare-up
  • Hormonal changes
  • What Can Help Soothe/Keep Down Geographic Tongue?

    • Vitamin B supplements
    • Zinc supplements
    • Toothpaste for sensitive teeth with no additives
    • Ice (temporarily)
    • Anesthetic mouth rinses
    • Mint gum/lozenges (supposedly)

    (If constantly painful, a doctor can treat geographic tongue with certain topical ointments, antifungal products, or even corticosteroid treatments.)

    Living With Geographic Tongue

    For me, the list of “trigger foods” surprises me; most if not all of those are on my “do-not-eat” list. I never have been able to enjoy cinnamon-flavored gum or candy, for instance, and I’ve always been very particular about the kind of orange juice I get–it’s got to be “Low Acid.” And though I love sweets, too much chocolate with nothing to drink with it leaves me with a burning, “coated”-feeling tongue and throat.

    In light of this condition, my picky eating makes a little more sense, since I’ve been avoiding many foods possibly based on how they make my mouth feel rather than the taste. And it also sheds light on why my tongue often feels so irritated after I brush my teeth, too, since I use a lot of whitening agents and special mouth rinses.

    I don’t know whether adding Vitamin B or zinc would help me, nor am I sure if my geographic tongue might be connected to stress, allergies, psoriasis, etc. But these sure help give clues as to what I can try!

    For Further Reading/Reference Article on Geographic Tongue
    Foods that Cause Geographic Tongue’s Guide to Geographic Tongue
    Geographic Tongue: Top 10 Causes and Cures
    Geographic Tongue: Wikipedia Article
    Fissured Tongue: Wikipedia Article

    53 thoughts on “Geographic Tongue: A Real Pain in the Mouth”

    1. people… I have lived with this for over a decade and lost a ton of weight cause I couldn’t eat anything without my mouth feeling on fire. I saw 10 different doctors and no one knew what it was and a couple of them told me it was geographic tongue, and that it shouldn’t be painful…. but it’s not true!! I found relief with research on leaky gut syndrome and by doing my first whole 30. please do yourself a favor and read it starts with food and check out

      Do it! Don’t live like this! You can heal your mouth and your body with the right foods. Do this for yourself!

      best of luck!

    2. Hey, Robin, thanks so much for this informative blog. Apparently there are different degrees of this problem and even different triggers. I’ve been having these symptoms for almost 7 weeks and the doc”s remedy (Magic Mouthwash $40) didn’t do a thing. Decided to do more online research before making an appointment with my dentist. Stumbled across your blog and this article on WebMD: so now I’m going to try to undo all the helpful things I’ve been doing, which were furthering the irritation. I’m 60 years old and this is the first time it’s gotten this bad! Feels wonderful to have a diagnosis. Wouldn’t the doctor flip to know I found it on the Internet? 😉

    3. I’m glad you liked the article! I hope its advice helps end the irritation you’re suffering. For me, changing my toothpaste made SO much difference–I’ll never use whitening stuff again! (Do check with your dentist at your next cleaning appointment, though–they can use different polishing pastes to help avoid the burning mouth feeling, as well as advise you on specific products for sensitive mouths.)

    4. It started with pineapple (fresh or canned) for me, a couple of years ago. Then I noticed eggplant had the same effect; feeling like the sides of my tongue had been slashed. Fresh garlic sauce from the Mediterranean restaurant was next. Just this past week, fresh tomatoes ! And just yesterday, a banana left hints of this annoying sensation. Very frustrating! I AM older (61), and female, so I fit the given profile, I guess!

    5. I just ate some mango and had a flare up and decided to looks up ‘geographic tongue’. I have always had flare ups since I was young (32 years old now). I as well always hated cinnimin gum because it was way to strong and hurt my tongue. Strange thing though, tomatoes on there own are the worst for me. The raised bumps last for about 30 to 40 minutes, yet I can eat lemon slices whole (something my grandpa taught me, I know I know, bad for enamal) and drink orange juice all day long. Melons are fine but pineapple is horrible. I used to think citris concentration but tomatoes vs lemons don’t make sense. Good article. Kinda good to know there’s nothing wrong and I’m not alone. My trick to deal with it is water and folding my tongue back on itself and rub it back and forth. Still hurts but aeems to go away quicker.

    6. Good to hear about your experience! Tomatoes are definitely on the list as a HUGE trigger food for most people–I’ve not heard of too many people outside my family who have the particular sensitivity to tomato + citrus. I usually use ice/ice water to try to calm my tongue down, too…must be something about removing the irritant and calming inflammation. I hope someday scientists will study this and figure out what exactly is in tomatoes, cinnamon, citrus fruits, etc. that drives our tongues crazy! 😀

    7. All of the foods you mentioned are on the high histamine food list. Look up this condition, there can be two parts to this. And there are many other health problems that can clear up by avoiding these foods. My geograhic tongue is better after three weeks of this, after suffering it continuously for 12 years.

    8. I checked out high histamine on MindBodyGreen–very interesting! I’ve never had bad reactions to peanuts, spinach, or mayonnaise, but definitely to citrus fruits, bananas, shellfish, chocolate, and cured meats. WOW…wonder if the two conditions are connected??

    9. I’m so glad that you posted this! I have been wondering what is going on for years. I now understand why my mom has the same thing happen to her. I have put some things on my “do not eat” list, but there are some that are worth the pain. (One being pineapple) Thanks for the info!!

    10. Thank you for posting this. I have it, was really scared at first. I love ketchup and didn’t understand why it was hurting the tip of my tongue. I never could drink oj. My tongue just looked really strange all the sudden one day.
      Glad to know I’m ok and not all alone in this. Again thank you.

    11. I got my diagnosis 5 years ago after a very awful dental experience which can be a trigger. It has been a nightmare. I use Toms clean and gentle SLS free toothpaste, a must buy! I also take Niacinimide ( non-flushing) everyday, and zinc. It’s daunting to know that this is with me 24/7. I got it when I was 55. It’s also possibly a relative of an auto immune disorder. My dental procedure was nerve damage. I hate ordering food in restaurants. I loved spicy, sour foods, chocolate and a nice glass of Chardonnay so all those things if I eat them come at a miserable price. You all are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

    12. I’ve 25 and have suffered with this for several years during my teens. The doctors didn’t know and it wasn’t until Insaw a new dentist just over a year ago that someone diagnosed this condition. I get very angry and upset when I hear people say it’s not serious and is a minor irritation!!!! My tongue constants burns with pain and I can not longer taste hardly any of my food. It controls my life with what I can and can’t eat or what I dare even try. It gets me more stressed the more it hurts because it makes me want to bite my tongue off!! None of any remedies I have tried so far have worked, and the doctors/dentist refuse to refer me to anyone else who can help and tell me to just avoid things and it will pass :'(

    13. My 12 year old daughter is dealing with this. It flares up after eating avocados. It also flares up when she eats guacamole, which has the tomato/citrus combination irritant. I’m glad to have found this page via Pinterest. I don’t really know how to help her, except have her avoid these foods. Its sad though because we love them! I have lots of food sensitivities, so her having a type of reaction is not surprising. It’s just good to finally have a name for what has been frequently happening to her tongue. Yes, her tongue doesn’t constantly look like the above, only after ingesting the above foods.

    14. Yeah, it’s a struggle to deal with sometimes because the tastiest foods end up setting off the tongue reaction! I’m sorry to hear she’s dealing with this 🙁 I hope one day there will be some kind of alleviation for the condition, and hopefully even ways to prevent it besides restricting the diet!

    15. I have had the condition for 6 months . For periods it has been very severe. Seen 4 GPs , with no improvement. Tried everything , I had read about that might help without success. Finally got to see a consultant. He did not have a cure but suggested fizzy vitamin c tablet on the tongue once a day . Also thought food allergy tests would probably result in too many foods being off the menu. My symptons are milder with vitamin c and with vitamin b 6 and b12 my symptons improved dramatically . I still feel certain foods increase symptons but still narrowing them down. Agree about certain toothpastes being better and had it confirmed by my dentist, Something that seems to stop a flare up from getting worse seems to be sugar free polo mints. I notice if I suck a few over an hour or two symptons subside .

    16. That’s great that vitamins and the sugar free mints have helped reduce your flare-ups! I hope one day we’ll find out what causes this and how to keep it from happening altogether 🙂

    17. Flip, Flip it .! I recently noticed my tongue getting sore, tried aloe vera, changing toothbrushes, mouthwash and thought ‘Have I got mouth cancer??’
      I grow a lot of tomatoes in my polytunnel and I’ve been popping the sweet cherry ones straight down and then having the beef type ones in sandwiches. It was only today after eating nearly ten cherry toms that I thought about an allergy and came across your post.
      Heck, I’m going to have to cook them. Thanks! No really , thanks – I don’t have mouth cancer.

    18. I had never heard of this condition prior to my last doctors appointment. I went to a new doctor, and she took one look in my mouth and said “oh look, you’ve got a geographic tongue!”. It is blowing my mind that not everyone’s tongue feels strange after they eat pineapple! I love cinnamon gum, but have never been able to chew it for too long. Now I know why!

    19. Nice article! Minor irritation…I don’t think so!!! One can’t understand it if they haven’t experienced it. I felt compelled to comment because I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 15 years ago. Since following the gluten free diet strictly, my geographic tongue “flare ups” are nothing like they used to be. It was a daily (and painful) struggle but now the occurances are much less often. Don’t get me wrong, following the gluten free diet doesn’t mean I can drink 2 glasses of orange juice and have a BLT. But the occurrences and severity have definitely lessened. Certainly not trying to be a know-it-all or instilling fear, but I’d suggest getting tested for Celiac if you are suffering from this condition. Seems many Doctors don’t have a clue, as you’ve noted 😉
      (gf is not easy, but definitely manageable!)
      Sorry for the long comment!

    20. I’ve had GT all of my life….the foods that trigger it for me are walnuts, pecans, tomatoes,pineapple,aubergine and oranges. When I was pregnant my symptoms went through the roof, after seeing my Doctor and having blood tests I learnt my B12 levels were seriously low.
      If you’re pregnant and your GT is bad its worth talking to your doctor, and checking your B12.

    21. Has anyone been treated with amitriptyline? I saw a doctor recently at Guy’s Hospital in London who explained to me that certain foods are not the real problem, it’s the fact that parts of the tongue are regenerating at a faster rate than others and so are more sensitive to things like acidic fruit. He said to treat my geographic tongue he would have to examine the underlying cause, which he believed to be nerve damage (!). He recommend taking amitriptyline 10mg every day for 12-18 months. This apparently calms the nerves down so the tongue is less over-active in terms of regeneration. The hope is that after that time, the nerves will have resolved and the tongue won’t flare up again. For now, I am trying a steroid mouthwash (it’s doing diddly squat), but I return in two months time and the doctor will prescribe me amitriptyline. It’s probably better know an an anti-depressant, although the 10mg dosage is much much lower than what would be described for people with mood disorders. The random diagnosis threw me a little, I felt like Charlotte in Sex and the City when she was diagnosed with a depressed vagina! In fact, i think her prescribed course of treatment was the same ??

      But the doctor’s explanation kind of makes sense, as I went through a period of bad health for about 4 years and I felt like my body was misfiring. I had shingles, and I’m pretty sure that left me with mild nerve damage in my torso, because I still get shooting pains there from time to time. My asthma also flared up, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the nerves supplying my tongue also started misfiring. I never had these tongue problems growing up, they only developed in my late twenties. I’m now 30.

      If you are reading this and have used this drug to treat geographic tongue, I would love to hear from you 🙂

      p.s. tomatoes, spinach, garlic and champagne are the worst for me, all things I love!!

    22. Tomatoes can really set off the fire on my tongue as well as pineapple to a lesser extent. I have found that busting up a couple Tums with my teeth and then working them around on my tongue helps a great deal. That also works for getting rid of food after tastes like onion, green pepper, cucumber etc.

    23. I have had this for about 20 yrs now. I believe pregnancy was the trigger for me. Pregnancy seemed to put my auto immune systems in free fall. I had already started developing vitiligo. ,
      My dentist saw me 2 days after a lovely Chinese sweet & sour meal washed down with alcoholic cider, which left me in agony and he told me about the GT. Told my dad and he said that why he’s never liked eating strawberries and salt and vinegar crisps! Anyway 3 years later aged 36, I was diagnosed with T1 LADA diabetes, (Autoimmune Diabetes in the Adult) so I’m convinced it’s all related to autoimmune somehow. My 15 yrs old seems so be having fruit sensitivity now also.
      Trying to find healthy snacks , tried almonds and roasted sunflower seeds, killer on the old tongue. Bad triggers for me, tomato ketchup, melon, artificial cheese flavoured anything.

    24. Wow thanks so much I’m 41 and I’d say my geographic tongue irritations started when I was young but I had no clue what it was or why it was happening, well it kinda just went away, I forgot that I even had it so when I turned like 35 it came back freaked me out lol I thought I was dying or had a disease listen guys I literally freaked out about it and went to the doctor’s he told me it was geographic tongue and I remember I had this problem way back but was never taken to the doctors about it then, well needless to say I was pleasantly relieved about the fact that I wasn’t dying ? and in fact the doc told me his wife suffers from it also, that really eased my mind but I did feel ashamed, I started talking without opening my mouth as much but that didn’t work then I said ya know this is me and I have to accept it. Well I did and still do and when asked about it I proudly tell what I’m suffering from without embarrassment. The thing is I absolutely LOVE lemons, salt and vinegar chips, hot cheetos, flaming hot popcorn, and tomato sandwiches or plain tomatoes with salt and olive oil thus list goes on which is the sad part for me because I do suffer lots especially after duking all the juice out of a lemon ??lol I don’t know why I torture myself but I do. I also suffer from eczema and anemia ? I’m going to use some of the things I’ve learned in your blog I appreciate you sharing your story with me and everyone else you really helped me today I had no idea they all were connected which is why I’m fascinated right now I mean it all makes sense to me now. Can’t thank you enough thanks again for the Valuable Information.

    25. Wow! So here’s my new quick story and my theory and I guess my future will tell. Well this might get long so not quick. 47 developed geographic tongue 10 days ago. 14 months ago I had 2 brain surgeries in 1 week and the following during the past year lots and lots of antibiotics and my healthier eating had gone downhill. Lifelong allergy/asthma well controlled. 4 months ago I developed an allergy autoimmune type disorder causing anaphylactic like shock reactions to things I’m not allergic to. I instantly went back to my naturopath b/c I felt this has something to do with my gut and good bacteria etc. and he concurred and explained to me about leaky gut and all things related and I started workes on that with some supplements and little dietary effort but not earnest dietary effort other than a FEW non-gmo things and non BOOM geo tingue. Another new symptom of what I believe is related to the autoimmune junk I’ve developed from the gut issues created by so much antibiotics over the last year and eating so much junk food, crappy carbs and just plain junk food I Never used to eat before surgery. Used to workout several times per week and that fell to the way side. I hope what that one poster wrote about the “whole 30” is true and that healing my gut will help heal all the symptoms of this autoimmune allergy related stuff I’m having. Look me up. Let’s chat.

    26. Hi, My name is Robin too! Do you have RH negative blood? I am O-negative and apparently, this is a part of this. Being RH O negative, I am immune to poison oak, ivy, and poison sumac. I also cannot contract HIV. There is a slew of things I am immune to and I have never had a stomach ache, heartburn or anything digestive related. I have excellent vision 20/10 was 20/8, 20 years ago. I had perfect hearing until Judas Priest came to town and we were in the front row. It struck my ears like an ice pick. They have been ringing ever since. I never realized why I had all this until I started researching it. I was doing more research on RH negative O- blood when they mentioned geographic tongue. That is how I found you.
      I have geographic tongue and cannot eat walnuts, pecans or fresh pineapple unless I want my tongue swelling up and getting those painful spots on the sides. Cooked pineapple is just fine, weird but true. If I eat really sour stuff like those Sour Patch Kids it hurts, they have tartaric and citric acid in them. Nerds candies do the same thing it has malic acid in it. I haven’t eaten those in 20 years. The rest of the foods, mouthwash, and toothpaste you mentioned I don’t have any trouble with. Except I hate things that are hot. Call me a *ussy but I am not eating anything with a burn scale! lol
      I am a vegan, I do not eat anything that contains GMOs and isn’t organic. Monsanto, Dow, and Bayer are not going to take me down. It is a scary thing what they are doing. Here is a tidbit that will blow you away

      I do take a multi-vitamin; this one: Along with this calcium supplement from the same company, “Calcium Complex with Magnesium 1000 MG”. I take iron two to three times a week, just for an additive.
      For mouthwash and toothpaste, I use J?SÖN Seafresh or Healthy Mouth toothpaste and mouthwash. If they are out of that I get Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil toothpaste and mouthwash. There are plenty of really good cruelty-free brands that are not sold at places like Walmart, drug stores, etc. I get them on Amazon or cheap. Here is a great list If you have pets stay away from anything containing Xylitol. It will kill them. By the way, Toms of Maine is not cruelty-free. They are owned by Colgate who tests on animals. To find other cruelty free beauty and health stuff go to and They have apps for your phone too. I haven’t tried those yet.

      It is good to know that I am not alone with this issue. Even though only 3% or less of the world has it. Finding another person with it isn’t easy, except for the internet! Voila! I went not knowing forever until I was at a new dentist’s office one day and the doctor said “COOL! You have geographic tongue.” I was like I have WHAT?!! Freaked me out. But it is all good now. Just looks weird.

    27. To LondonGal. Amitriptyline will turn you into a zombie. It will not help geographic tongue. There aren’t any cures or treatments it has nothing to do with nerves. The only thing you can do is to stay away from the foods that cause you pain.
      If you chew up an amitriptyline pill it will numb your mouth. But not in a good way. It is awful, but perfect if you have a really bad toothache.
      I don’t know where your doctor is getting that information but it is incorrect, unfortunately. Please do your own research and drop the amitriptyline. Trust me it is terrible. Good luck!

    28. My GT just seems to be getting worse lately that’s why I looked it up just now and found this. I wonder maybe it’s the avocado, you posters ruined my world with that…”it’s a good fat”! Ice is not helpful to me actually it also hurts my tonuge. I’ve had this since I was a kid, I’m 40 now and it’s only progressed. Ice cream was my one true love and even that hurts my tongue the past 4 or 5 years. Ironic also I’ve been doing my best to be gf because I think that helps with other inflammatory medical issues i have. And the past week I have not been fully gluten free most days and I wonder if that is why my tongue had refused to let up. In general my tongue bothers my most of the day than not. I rarely have relief but sometimes like right now it’s worse…i had eggplant for dinner one of my other favorite veggies which now I read may be the reason I’m in so much pain in googling. We learn something new everyday. Thanks for this article and everyone else’s post…VERY HELPFUL ill go google whole 30 now ?

    29. The trigger foods for geographic tongue seem to vary from person to person, so it makes sense that the relative success of treatments would also vary…I hate to hear you’re having so many problems with it still! Eggplants, to my knowledge, are related to tomatoes (part of my primary trigger), so that might be why they are triggering you as well. Check also the types of drinks you select alongside eggplants–if you drink any strong-flavored sodas or wine with them, that could be triggering the reaction. (Once I quit drinking anything but water, I found that my symptoms of geographic tongue subsided drastically!)

    30. This is the most emotionally and encouraging information I have found on GT on the internet. It’s unfortunate that so many people suffer from this disorder , yet it’s encouraging to me that I am not the only one. I have probably suffered from this ailment most of my life and never even knew it. It seems to have reared it’s ugly head when I started to get obsessive about cleaning my teeth at the advice of a dentist. All of the classic foods ( citrus, eggplant, walnuts pineapple etc) set it off not to mention many others. At this present time I am just starting to learn what provokes it and how to live with it. Keep the post coming ( especially the ones that offer relief) . Thanks everyone.

    31. I have this as well and have learned that tomatoes (no! Say it ain’t so!!!) are what causes my tongue flare ups. My Dr prescribed tongue lozenges that after a very heavy dose really work. I basically keep a prescription on hand for a flare up. Clotrimazole. They have no taste at all, just take a while to dissolve.
      Just today I decided to eat a bunch of non spicy pico de gallo because I had some the other day and didn’t have an issue- well no such luck. My tongue was fine until i had something mildly spicy and my tongue burner for 15 minutes straight! The spicy stuff I had was hummus, and it isn’t normally spicy to me unless I eat a lot of it, but it irritable me immediately. That’ll learn me! So even if I think I’ll be fine I must avoid lots of tomatoes. Which is a bummer, but oh well!

    32. This is such a helpful article! Thank you. I now know what I have and I am not dying, which is a relief. I am 62 and GT has only been bothering me for about 2 months. I now have some resources and know the foods I need to stop eating thanks to all the posts here. Whew!

    33. Robin, Thanks for this post! I beleive I have GT. In your opinion, what type of Dr would know how to diagnose/manage GT-a dentist, oral surgeon or oral pathologist? Also, do you brush your geographic tongue as part of your normal daily oral hygiene? Look forward to hearing from you.

    34. Thanks so much for writing this Robin. I’ve been suffering with GT for the last 6 months after having a hysterectomy…I’m sure that it’s hormone related although I do also suffer with Psoriasis. I can no longer eat my beloved curries, tomatoes or nuts! I’ve found that taking a vitamin B complex, vitamin C with zinc and folic acid has helped a little but still have flare ups. I feel very self-conscious of the way my tongue looks and have never met another sufferer!

    35. I feel compelled to submit a follow up to this discussion since I last posted. I think it’s worth noting that subsequent to posting my comment I was tested for several things through blood test and one thing that was certain was that I was terribly low on B -12. Why? God only knows but nonetheless it was the case. I was advised to start on B-12 supplements ( also b complex) and lo and behold it has helped considerably . I would say there is at least an 80% improvement. I personally believe there are many factors that affect this condition therefore there are many things that have to be addressed to improve it. Some factors beyond vitamin deficiencies are things like chronic mouth breathing ( a byproduct of sleep disorders) that dry out the mouth, allergies, anxiety (from the constant bother of it) and obviously certain foods. it’s constant management to keep it in check. I’ve got a question for some of you? Does GT ever affect any other parts of your mouth ? Lips? Roof of your mouth etc even a little? Does your mouth ever feel constantly dry or sticky? ……. BTW the Vitamin supplements did not have an immediate impact. It did take about 5 weeks to start to notice improvements.

    36. B12 deficiency could definitely be part of the cause! I’m glad yours has improved so much by taking the supplements, and I will check with my doctors to see what they recommend 🙂

    37. I would check with your dentist first to see if there’s any additives in your oral care routine that you could eliminate, and what they would suggest in place of those additives. (I have to avoid the “fake mint” in most commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes, but I have had success with natural toothpastes that contain true mint flavoring.) Also, since removing a lot of irritating substances from my diet and personal care routines, I can brush my tongue during oral care without the pain I used to experience–YAY!

    38. Wow, I thought I was the only one! I have had geographic tongue most of my life. I’m now 50. I was always self conscious of the white patches on my tongue and always wondered why my tongue looked so ugly. My dentist told me off handedly that I had a geographic tongue about 5 years ago. It was a relief to know that my abnormal looking tongue was a benign condition. High on my list of sensitivity is walnuts, eggplant, and pineapple. Another one, which I didn’t see mentioned, is lentils. I love eggplant parmigiana, but boy do I pay for it.

    39. Quite by accident I learned that a spoonful of honey eaten right after the burning begins stops the burning pain almost immediately. Put just enough honey in the spoon to coat your tongue and let it slowly melt away in your mouth.

    40. I’ve had this condition worsening over time. It was interesting to see posts about combination of foods setting off an episode, I find this too be true as well. Salt and sugar – bad. Sugar combined with ascorbic acid flavorings- Yikes! I eat fresh pineapple quite a bit, no problem. I have been using Crest 3D toothpaste for a while as well, I think I’m going to look for a neutral toothpaste, the timing makes sense.

      One thing I didn’t read is feeling as if the tongue is ‘cut’. I get sudden deep fissures that are extremely painful, along with all the other symtoms mentioned. I tame it with baking soda rinse but will also try the honey next time because, hey, tastes much better than baking soda!

    41. Hey Debra I have had the fissures myself and yes it does feel like your tongue is cut and it is painful. As a matter of fact the fissures are what makes this disorder particularly painful. Oddly enough I was using baking soda myself hoping it would help tame the beast but it did nothing but make things worse by further irritating my mouth. It seems to me that the thing that has had the most impact is the continual use of the right quality supplements ( B-12 and zinc). The condition never seems to go away completely but it definitely subsides when you exercise the right preventitive measures. it’s quite annoying.

    42. I was diagnosed with GT when I was 4. I am now 29 (female). I have struggled with this for most of my life now, and like some of you, I have been told many times that this isn’t a “painful” condition. I call BS. Sometimes the lines I get on my tongue swell to the point that it’s hard for me to talk normally. All sorts of food irritate my tongue. Bananas tend to be the worst (I hate them, so that’s a plus), but sometimes even bread can irritate it. A few years back, I thought that I may had grown out of it (which happens apparently), but when I got pregnant and had my daughter, it very much reared it’s ugly head once again. I’m the type of person that will eat what I please, regardless of consequences. I’ll just be glad when someone finally cures this extremely annoying (to put it mildly) ailment.

    43. Thank you so much for the post. Finally, a name to this condition. I have had GT since I can remember (now 46yo). Tomatoes are the WORST followed by hummus then many others that have been previously listed. When I was pregnant the swelling and pain was so bad I actually sought medical attention from the dentist and doctor. Both had no idea. I especially found the correlation between bowel disease intriguing (have that too). This post has given me the most useful and insightful information since ever. Thanks again for taking the time to research and share.

    44. The strange thing for me is the fact that doctors do not care at all. You tell them you’re in pain, and they look at you and say, “You are just fine, there is nothing wrong with you.” It’s typical gas-lighting behavior because they won’t admit that they just don’t have an answer. It’s so unbelievably annoying. I feel that if you see a doctor who writes you off and doesn’t even do anything to try to help you, you should be refunded your copay. It’s such BS.

      I know I have GT but nothing seems to help. The wierd thing I’ve started noticing is that it’s really okay when I wake up in the morning and as the day goes on, it pops back up. Around 11:00 AM like clockwork no matter if I’ve eaten anything at all. I am on antidepressants and have not seen any improvement at all. I am under a lot of stress in my life right now, and live most days feeling like I barely make it by the skin of my teeth each day. I know the stress is not helping but there’s not much I can do. I will try the honey trick, which is funny because I did that out of desperation the other day just to have something soft coat my tongue looking for relief. It’s funny how instincts kick in when you’re in pain. It was like my body knew honey might help. I’ll try more B vitamins. If anyone knows anything more, please post. 🙁

    45. I also use Sensodine toothpaste which I switched to because of this. It did help a little bit. I’m not aware if they are an “ethical” brand, but it works for me at least it doesn’t seem to be a cause of flare up.

      It really sucks because my absolute favorite foods are spicy, Siracha, Tabasco, any Asian food, limes, tomatoes, fresh citrus literally all of my favorite foods I have to be afraid of :'(

      I would like to try eliminating gluten and see if that helps, but I really don’t have the time, or the resources for that. I am so poor and beggars really cannot be choosers. Want to know why I’m stressed and poor-I’m a teacher in the USA.

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