Getting Rid of Geographic Tongue
First of all let me say I am not a doctor or a dentist. Nothing on this page should be considered advice. You should not assume I am an expert on Geographic Tongue nor that any information presented on this page is from an expert on the subject (as you will see, there do not appear to be any true experts on this subject). I have gathered a good deal of information about GT, but I cannot assure you that relying on this information is advisable or even safe -- I am merely sharing information. I am not an expert on GT. YOU and any medical professionals whose advice you rely on are responsible for the decisions you make about your GT. Any opinions expressed on this site are simply those of a fellow GT sufferer, not an expert whose opinion you should rely on and then decide to sue if you are unhappy with the results of your reliance on those opinions. All of this should go without saying, but these days it seems everyone wants to try to blame everyone else for their misfortunes, and I don't want to put myself or my family at risk just because I've attempted to gather and share information about this subject. So once again, do not assume any information on this page is correct or even safe -- do your own due diligence and/or rely on your own judgment as to what is reasonable, but do not claim I talked you into doing anything.
I have a classic case of geographic tongue (slick red patches with no papillae, often a ring of white around the patch, sometimes tiny amounts of bleeding around the edges, patches grow and shrink and move around, go away and come back a few days or weeks later). Mine is very minor and is usually not noticeable to other people, but is annoying to me. And despite what my dentist and most of my internet research tells me, I've become convinced that this condition is a recurring infection and that I know how to treat it. [Update: as of June 2003, my GT has become so minor it is hardly an irritant at all, thanks to avoiding GT triggers and effective treatment when I do get GT patches. I've had one small patch for about two days four times within the last 7 months....] [As of March 2005 my GT remains a only minor irritant, with small patches appearing every two or three months on average and always going away quickly when treated with peroxide rinses and brushing my mouth and tongue with non-tartar-control toothpaste several times a day. I am no longer actively maintaining this web page, but I think it still contains some very useful information and so I will leave it up. Email me if you see any significant information that has become outdated or you know of new medical information I should add or provide links to.]
My treatment is simple, easy, and works for me. It is not a cure, as the condition always returns days or weeks or months later, but I can ALWAYS get it to go away within 3 days with my treatment, and most of the time I can keep it from returning for months (if you can make it go away for months at a time you'll be a lot happier than if you are constantly annoyed by it). Maybe it only works for me, but given my classic symptoms, I'd be willing to bet that it will work for others as well. Give it a try -- what do you have to lose? If it doesn't work then you've still done nothing but improve your dental hygiene. Then let me know whether or not it works for you. I will post statistics as I receive responses. I am creating this web page in March 2002 and it will take several weeks (maybe even a few months) for most of the search engines to find it, so I don't expect to be getting many responses for a while. Keep checking back once a month or so if you are interested. [Update March 2005: I get a reasonable amount of email about GT, but not enough from people who have tried the treatments on this page to give any clear results -- most people who write have just found the site and are sending thanks, but very few follow up 6 to 12 months later. It is my impression from the email I have received that peroxide rinses and frequent brushing of the mouth and tongue help more people than anything else; there are some people who find peroxide rinses do not help them at all but some of the other treatments on this page do help them a lot; and I've heard from a few people who have yet to find anything that really seems to help. The good news is most people seem to find some ideas on this page that do help if they keep trying.]
If you are doing a STUDY on Geographic Tongue, I invite you to contact me. I will be happy to share any and all of my unscientific findings so that you can do a scientific study to confirm the merit of my findings.
Also, please forgive the disorganized format of this web page. I have put this together in my spare time, and have added additional information within the page on many occasions as it has become available to me, so it is a bit of a mess, but there is a lot of information here, even if it is not very pretty.
Cause and prevention of Geographic Tongue: Most of the information I've read suggests the exact cause is unknown, but that it may be triggered by stress, allergies or by irritation of the tongue from hot or spicy foods, alcohol, tobacco, etc. Many of the sources which do suggest a treatment say it is a yeast or fungal infection (yeast are apparently a type of fungus?) and is likely caused by harmless yeast which are normally present in everyone's mouth that have gotten out of hand, sometimes due to reduced immune system or reduced levels of "good" bacteria that normally control these yeast (such as after taking antibiotics). There is no confirmation that this is "the" cause, or even one of several causes. And even if it is a cause, there could be dozens of different problems which lead to this "harmless" yeast/fungus getting out of control, and there is no explanation that I have heard as to why GT tends to remain a chronic, recurring problem in those that have it, rather than going away if and when this "harmless" yeast/fungus gets back under control. Personally, I find myself asking whether GT is one "disease" which can be caused by different things, or whether there are actually several separate and unrelated diseases which are unnamed but have a similar set of symptoms which lead them to be grouped together under the name "geographic tongue." Since nobody has found a reliable way to determine the cause of GT or to do a test that confirms you do in fact have GT, I assume this will not change anytime soon. The best I can do is try to put together information on the variety of things that seem to cause, trigger, prevent, and treat GT -- hopefully one or more of the things you read about here will be helpful to you. Pregnancy seems to be a major factor for many women -- see the section on pregnancy and GT below if you are pregnant or first got GT when you were pregnant.
Please note that while very few sources of information point this out, there is a difference in something that causes GT the first time and something that triggers a GT outbreak in someone who already has GT. It is likely that the things that trigger the outbreak of GT patches in someone who has GT are often different from the thing(s) that caused them to develop GT to begin with. For example, many people find that acidic foods like fruit or juice will almost always trigger their GT. But they usually consumed these foods for many years without getting GT. At some point some (usually unknown) factor caused them to develop GT. Now that they have GT, even if it comes and goes, these foods trigger a new round of GT almost every time they consume them.
In my case, my GT usually seems to occur after I've had one or more alcoholic beverages, especially if I've had drinks two or three nights in a row. And the alcohol I drink is usually whiskey, so it could be the yeast in the whiskey or it could be a reaction to the alcohol. Spicy foods do not seem to affect my Geographic Tongue (GT), but clearly they do affect some people. I quit smoking in 1997, which was a couple of years before I started getting GT, so I can't speak for tobacco. I live a pretty stress-free life, so no help here for me. I'm not saying that because I don't have much stress in my life that I think stress is not the trigger for some peoples GT -- it is my impression that there are different triggers for different people. I have read several opinions which suggest stress is THE trigger for GT, but I'm quite sure stress is not the trigger in everyone.
Another potential cause mentioned in the "Great forum" link below is acid reflux. I have acid reflux, as does my only friend with GT. And one thing that really brings on my acid reflux is drinking. So it could be that the drinking causes the reflux which triggers the GT, but I don't know for sure. However, I've been taking Nexium to treat my acid reflux since November 2002. As of August 2003, I've only had small patches five times in the nine months since I started treatment for acid reflux, and they all went away very quickly with brushing and peroxide. Acidic foods are often listed as a trigger for GT in many people -- I don't eat or drink many acidic items, though I've consumed lots of orange juice at times in my past. I could be wrong, but I'm almost convinced at this point that my GT is triggered by acid. Treating acid reflux seems to have prevented all but occasional occurrences of GT. But I've also heard from others who's GT seems to have nothing to do with acid. And I'm not sure if reflux was the original cause of my GT or just a trigger now that I have GT. My most recent GT outbreak was after drinking orange juice (very acidic) for the first time in about a month, so I'm going to experiment over the next couple of months to see if it triggers GT despite my acid reflux treatment.
I've received several emails from people who first noticed GT patches right after getting a new dental filling or crown, and they say that the patches always start near those fillings/crowns. Thus they suspect that their GT may be some type of reaction (probably allergic) to the metal used in the filling or crown. Since my GT always starts on the left side of my tongue, this is a possibility -- but I don't remember exactly when my GT started or what if any dental work I had done just prior to that. Since acid seems to be a definite GT trigger in many of us, it may also be that the metal in the filling/crown is not a problem, but when it is exposed to an acidic mouth for some time small amounts of new compounds are given off by the reaction of the metal and the acid, and those compounds may cause or trigger GT. All this is guesswork, but through discussion of ideas like this we find out which patterns are or are not common.
Another potential cause mentioned in the "Great forum" link below is vitamin B deficiency. However, this does not seem to be the cause in everyone. But if you have very severe or painful GT, you might want to get tested for a vitamin B deficiency. I received an email from someone who said she has been diagnosed with "Pernicious anemia -- a very serious vitamin B-12 condition." Normal B-12 counts are 900 -- hers was a 9. She has received shots, but was told it will take about 2 to 3 months for the condition to reverse. So that suggests that taking vitamin B for a few weeks is not sufficient to confirm whether your GT is caused by a vitamin B deficiency or whether taking vitamin B will help treat it.
The one thing I'm clear on at this point is that GT varies a lot from person to person. The severity, the original causes, the triggers, the preventatives, and the success of specific treatments are totally different in different people. For some of us GT is a minor annoyance, for others it is a major problem in their daily lives. For some it is painless, for others it is quite painful. Some treatments work well for a good percentage of people, others work well for a few people but seem useless for most others. So if you try something on this page and it doesn't work for you, don't give up and assume all the information on this page is useless. Try some of the other suggestions until you find something that works for you. If nothing does, do more research and don't give up. Something is triggering your GT. Odds are that there is something you can do that will reduce the frequency of your GT episodes, and there is likely something that you can do to effectively treat it when it does happen. This said, I'm in contact with people who have yet to find anything that prevents or effectively treats their GT, so I'm always interested in hearing about other treatments that work so I can pass them on -- you may stumble onto something that is the first thing to help someone with very severe GT....
Anyway, try to notice whether one or more of these things mentioned above triggers GT in you. If so, maybe you can avoid GT altogether. In my case, if I don't drink I get GT much less frequently, but now it is so easy to get rid of the GT while it is still very minor that I don't worry about it. Also, if I am careful to brush my teeth and tongue three times a day on the day I drink and the day after, I usually don't get GT (sometimes I still get GT, but I get it much more often when I do not do this). So it appears to me that (at least in my case) GT is actually preventable most of the time simply by brushing of my teeth, tongue, and gums frequently with a toothpaste containing fluoride and peroxide. I still get GT patches, but a lot less often. Many times in the past when I got GT I realized that I had had several drinks the night before and then I either went to bed without brushing my teeth or got up on a weekend morning after drinking the night before and forgot to brush my teeth until after lunch (I usually brush my teeth after I shower and shave as I get ready in the morning, which I sometimes do not do until well after noon on weekends). These days I'm much more careful about always brushing my teeth morning and night, and I still get GT from time to time, but missing a night sure seemed to bring on GT in the past.
Standard Treatment: The "prevailing wisdom" quoted by most doctors, dentists, and web sites is that there is "No Treatment" for GT. A few doctors and web sites do suggest specific treatments (any I've found are in the "Links" section below). Many web sites suggest treatments for the symptoms (soreness) but nothing that gets rid of the GT. However, there are a few web sites which suggest steroids, Zinc supplements, vitamin B12, antifungal and antibacterial medications may be used to treat GT (see Links at bottom of page). [April 2002 -- I've just discovered a site with lots of suggested treatments -- see the first Link below.] All agree there is no permanent cure, but as far as I am concerned if you can make it go away for months at a time you'll be a lot happier than if you are constantly annoyed by it. So if my simple treatment does not work for you, you might want to contact your doctor or dentist about prescribing one of the treatments described in these links. Be sure to go armed with a printout from the web site, since most have always heard that there is no treatment for GT.
My Treatment: Remember, I am not a doctor or dentist, and I am not giving you medical advice. I am just telling you about the treatment I use which involves normal dental hygiene products -- you can choose to try this treatment and share your results, but the choice is yours either way.
The current "common knowledge" is that there is no treatment for GT. It may or may not be an infection. Apparently antibiotics do not work -- perhaps GT is not bacterial, I personally do not know (as stated previously, there are many claims that GT is caused by a normally-occurring yeast or fungus that has gotten out of control). I can only say that it sure acts like an infection, and fluoride and peroxide seem to fight it. Here are the details:
Having become convinced GT was an infection, I treated it like one. I brushed my teeth, gums, and tongue at least 3 times a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride, baking soda, and peroxide. Often I will smear a little toothpaste on the GT patch and let it sit for 30 to 45 seconds before I begin brushing my teeth.
Note that fluoride is highly poisonous and should not be swallowed (small amounts in your water do not seem to do serious harm, though many people now claim that we are getting more fluoride than we really should). Never use a fluoride toothpaste in children who are too young to understand that they should not swallow any of it. Not only does fluoride find its way into your teeth and bones, but it is great at killing bacteria and other organisms, which some people claim is its primary benefit in preventing cavities (since too much fluoride actually weakens the bones and teeth). I also brush my teeth and tongue once or twice a day (only when I have GT) with Gel-Kam, a Colgate prescription-only fluoride gel used for cavity prevention and treatment of sensitive teeth. An alternative product is "Ortho + Perio Treatment". Both are 0.4% fluoride treatments that you can obtain through your dentist. There are probably other similar products. While these products seem expensive (about $10-20 for two 3.5 oz. tubes of Gel-Kam or $13 for 4.5 oz. of "Ortho + Perio" from my dentist if I recall correctly) you do not use it multiple times every day (you only use it when you get a new GT patch), and it lasts many months or even up to a couple of years. When using the Gel-Kam, I repeatedly brush the GT patches and the rest of my mouth with it for one to two minutes, being sure not to swallow it, then I do rinse my mouth thoroughly (contrary to the directions, as I do not want to get any more fluoride into my system than I have to and I do not want to stain my teeth) and I rinse my toothbrush and brush any residual Gel-Kam from my tongue with this rinsed toothbrush and water. [Note: my GT is now so minor and infrequent that I no longer use the Gel-Kam, but it seemed to help when I was dealing with worse patches a few years ago.] I have no way to know whether the baking soda in my toothpaste has any value in treating GT -- but it may (it should reduce the acidity of your mouth if nothing else, and baking soda is known to be a fungicide -- Arm & Hammer even sells ArmiCarb 100® as a fungicide for plants); and besides, for non-GT reasons I like to use a toothpaste with fluoride, baking soda, peroxide, and tartar-control. Colgate is cheapest toothpaste brand where I live that has a product with all three. I've now read that tartar-control works very well for preventing new tartar build-up, but is a mouth-irritant in "a small percentage" of people that causes "irritation and mouth sores" and might trigger GT in some of us. However, most toothpastes now contain tartar-control ingredients (pyrophosphate or zinc citrate), even those that don't claim to. So far, I've been unable to find a toothpaste without tartar-control in my local stores (you have to research the ingredients of a given toothpaste on the internet if it doesn't mention tartar-control on the label but also does not list the ingredients). If you find one, please let me know. SLS is another ingredient in most toothpastes that is also a likely trigger in some of us -- see note from Vladimir below for info on this and on SLS-free toothpastes (I've found several internet sources that confirm SLS is a major mouth irritant).
I also try to find time to rinse my mouth and tongue with peroxide twice a day with peroxide for one to two minutes. Some people don't mind peroxide in their mouth, others like me hate it (it foams up and tastes bad and if I get it in the back of my throat it gags me). If you hate it, just try not to let the foam get into the back of your throat, and rinse your mouth thoroughly and brush your teeth and tongue immediately afterwards. You will probably get used to it pretty quickly to a point where it doesn't gag you and doesn't taste quite so bad, and remember if your results are like mine you will only have to do this for one to three days before the GT is gone (you can also try Gly-oxide, which I've heard is less offensive to people who hate using peroxide). Be sure to keep plenty of peroxide on your tongue as you do this -- I gently rake my teeth against the GT patches to refresh the peroxide, since the peroxide gets "used up" next to the tongue and I want fresh peroxide continuously bathing the area for one or two minutes. Then I rinse my mouth several times and then brush my teeth to get rid of the taste. This provides much more peroxide action than the peroxide in my toothpaste. [Note from July 2002: I got an email from Kimberly, who says "When I have been inclined to treat these spots (normally when they become large enough to be noticed when holding conversation) I put a capful of peroxide on them two to three times and rinse with water and they normally shrink up and go away" which encourages me to think the peroxide is very helpful. And yet my treatment usually works quickly for me even if I skip the peroxide if the spots are not too bad -- so the combination of peroxide and brushing should be doubly effective.]
If I do the things described above, GT patches immediately stop expanding and within a day they start shrinking. They are almost always gone within 3 days. If I do not do these things, they expand, become slightly sore, move around, and last many days. And as I said before, avoiding the thing that triggers GT on my tongue (alcohol) usually means I do not get GT, and frequent brushing of my entire mouth will usually prevent GT even when I do consume alcohol.
It is clear that some (but not all) people get GT for the first time right after taking a round of antibiotics. While I have no way to know whether taking "probiotics" after a round of antibiotics will avoid this type of GT, it is clear that taking probiotics after a round of probiotics is a very good idea, and I would not be surprised if 10 years from now doctors are not prescribing them anytime they prescribe antibiotics. Do an internet search on "probiotics," and even if you ignore the few sites created by those with a financial interest in probiotics I think you will see what I mean. Since other diseases are often treated successfully with probiotics, it might be worth giving them a try for GT. My GT is now so mild and infrequent that I don't think I would be able to tell if it worked, but if you have frequent or constant GT you might want to see if it helps you.
Treatments other people have told me about through email: [I have not tried all of these suggestions, I'm just passing them on as part of my effort to share information about possible treatments -- David]
Kimberly says "When I have been inclined to treat these spots (normally when they become large enough to be noticed when holding conversation) I put a capful of peroxide on them two to three times and rinse with water and they normally shrink up and go away."
Christine says "I have found that if I rinse with very warm very salty water, I can usually get the patches to go away in a couple of days, they are no longer painful and will stop spreading after I rinse." [September 2002]
From an alternate GT thread on the Garden Web Forum: I've had geographic tongue for 2 years now. I've heard that it helps if you eat foods that contain zinc. I tried that and it didn't work. I tried taking zinc pills and it didn't work. [What I've read suggest zinc helps ONLY if you are deficient in zinc -- David.] I tried all kinds of mouth wash, still no luck. I read somewhere that vitamin B-100 would help, but I still got no results. I've been taking an allergy medicine called, Allegra (60mg). My doctor prescribed it to me for my allergies and I noticed that every time I took this medication it cleared up my tongue. I've been taking it for a month now and I have had no symptoms of geographic tongue. Benadryl over the counter works too! [October 2002]
One of the Garden Web Forum "threads" below in the "Links" section contains a post from 10/16/02 that says an allergy medicine called Alegra seems to help. [October 2002]
Sheryl says "I am 25 years old and have had GT for as long as I can remember. If you rub honey on your tongue and let it sit there for about 10-15 minutes, it will go away and of course come back but not near as fast as before. Now it's about every 2-3 months as opposed to almost every day." [November 2002]
Vladimir says "I also have had GT for several years now. My personal experience is that it's inflammatory in nature and is caused by irritation. The most known irritant is SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) which is in most toothpastes. Since I started using "Enamel Saver" SLS-free toothpaste my tongue completely cleared. This also explains why peroxide helps as it fights inflammation. The GT recently returned; however, using SLS-free toothpaste significantly improved condition, and cleared my tongue for long time. It doesn't seem to be a cure but just another step to the puzzle solution." [December 2002] [Note from David: Both Biotene and Rembrandt canker-free toothpastes are free of SLS and they are supposed to be available in many drug stores, though I did not find them in most of the places I've checked so far. I finally found Biotene Dry Mouth Toothpaste at Walmart -- but at my local Walmart they keep it with the mouthwash rather than with the toothpaste for some reason. Also Target and CVS have started carrying it -- check prices, they vary considerably. I've been told that Arm & Hammer "Sensitive Whitening" (pink box) is SLS-free but I have been unable to confirm this online. They are hard to find, but you can contact their Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-524-1328 and they can tell you exactly who carries a specific product in your area -- very helpful!. I am told Green People and Weleda toothpastes are also SLS-free. As of March 2005, I have been using a pea-sized dab of Biotene Dry Mouth Toothpaste combined with a small sprinkling of Arm & Hammer DENTAL CARE® Tooth Powder (this is no longer available) with great results for about a year. I have not found it to have any impact on my GT, but switching to Biotene did solve the problem of the lining of my mouth shedding or sloughing off constantly, a problem I developed a few years ago.]
[January 2008] [Despite my information about Biotene
above, I have recently realized that it is in fact not SLS that was causing my mouth lining to shed or slough off, but tartar control ingredients. Since Biotene did not have tartar control, it solved the
problem and I assumed SLS was the cause, but I have just completed two months on another toothpaste that does have SLS but does
not have tartar control, and the sloughing of the lining of my mouth did not recur. Also, no new GT patches in the last two months, though I had already determined as mentioned
above that SLS did not seem to be my GT trigger, just what caused my mouth lining to shed. Using a tartar control toothpaste causes the sloughing to return in a few
days, confirming it causes that problem.
I've recently heard from someone who's mouth burns with GT, but she realized if she used a non-SLS toothpaste (Biotene) the pain went away. If you want to see if it is tartar control rather than SLS that bothers you (whether it is a GT trigger or a cause of mouth pain or burning mouth or burning tongue), give "Aim - Cavity Protection - Multi Benefit" a try. It is one of the cheapest toothpastes at Walmart. It has flouride, but no tartar control ingredients. It has SLS, but since that doesn't bother me (as it turns out) I've switched since this toothpaste is a LOT cheaper than Biotene. Be careful, most varieties of Aim toothpaste do have tartar control ingredients, but fortunately this one does not. If SLS is a problem for you, Biotene is the best answer I have found.]
Lynnanne says "A treatment that works for me every time: Buy Benadryl in gel capsule form. Cut open the capsule and dump the powder into a small glass, such as a shot glass. Add just enough very warm water to the glass to dissolve the powder. Swish the water/Benadryl around in your mouth, concentrating on the painful patches (I rub my tongue against the roof of my mouth to get the Benadryl distributed. It will hurt like heck at first, but then it will make your mouth numb. When you're done, spit out the mixture. Don't eat anything for about 20 minutes, then go ahead with your life. One application will usually cause the problem to clear up over a day or so (at least until it decides to come back!). Otherwise, try it again in a day or two." [February 2003]
Jeff says "I brush my tongue thoroughly twice a day using a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide. Then I brush my teeth and tongue with a biotene toothpaste that contains no sodium laurel sulphate and rinse with a biotene mouthwash. Both are available over-the-counter at the pharmacy. The white coating and slick patches disappeared after a couple of days. Pretty simple and seems to work." [March 2003]
Anonymous: "I'm 26 and have suffered from GT for about 4 years. My GT has become mild on it's own but I found something that seems to help greatly. First an herb called, "Cascara Sagrada." Used on a regular basis worked miracles. Second is to get regular colonics. It's possible that GT is caused by parasites in the intestine." [March 2003]
Darlene writes that "a strict gluten free diet" may eliminate GT. Read details here. [April 2003]
Anonymous: "One underlying cause of GT may be the candida yeast in many individuals- and eliminating this problem (i.e. not through the use of antibiotics, obviously, but through sugar intake control since sugar is the yeast's food source) may help with GT as well as destroying this overall infection of the intestinal tract." [April 2003]
Heather says "I have the honorable privilege to have GT. I've had it for about 7 years now and only found a treatment in the last two. I got a prescription called Mycelex, its a anti-fungal medication. Used against the yeast infections of tongues. The great thing about it is that once you feel that familiar burning that tells you that your tongue will soon be a red sliced up blob soon, you just suck on one of these and it stops dead in its tracks and will leave you alone for quite some time. I don't know if it will help with others, my GT comes from food allergies...really, really weird food allergies. Not the usual ones that they say cause it. As for getting a prescription for it, all I did was tell my Dr. that it worked and there were no questions asked." [August 2003]
Sharon says that watered down TCP has helped her 17-month old son's GT. They have found that the best way to administer it is to let him suck it off a cotton-bud (q-tip) -- he actually likes it. TCP is an antiseptic liquid that is sold over the counter at chemists in the UK. It is made by Pfizer healthcare. [TCP is unavailable in the USA as far as I can determine, other than through online sources at high prices, and possibly in "British stores."] [August 2003]
Karen writes "Just wanted to let you know I have suffered from a geographic tongue all my life. My mother said I had it since I was a baby. As I got older, the lesions started to progress. Man!!! I have been so self conscious of it, and like alot of other people found myself depressed not wanting to talk to anyone when my tongue was flared. Now at the age of 34, I consulted a doctor here in Durham, NC and she prescribed Kenolog [Kenalog] in Orabase for the inflammation of my tongue (white lines and red patches); After 3 days of use I noticed that the majority of my tongue was clear, After about a week and 1/2 the stubborn lines on the tip of my tongue disappeared!! I was using it 3 times a day and now use it about once or twice, usually after I eat when I do. WOWWWWW!!!!!!! I feel like a normal person for once in my life, not afraid to carry on a descent conversation with anyone without feeling annoyed about my tongue. I don't know if it has cured my tongue, but I can say I have no symptoms of geographic tongue anymore. Please share this info." [October 2003]
Joe writes "I have suffered from cold sores, mouth sores, and GT for as long I as can remember. Its gotten better over the years, but each problem can still come on with a vengeance. Irritants like alcohol, acids, and dental procedures are definite triggers. Stress is another biggie. So is sun burn. However, they often occur for no discernable reason. I have found that a topical antibiotic that contains Bacitracin (like the "triple" ointments that also contain Neomycin and Polymyxin) are very effective for cold sores. The Bacitracin apparently acts as an anti-viral agent against the herpes virus responsible for cold sores. Not only is it effective, its cheap! Another effective treatment that I use (and which works to relieve all three problems) is the amino acid L-Lysine sold as a dietary supplement. Taken regularly, outbreaks occurs less often. When an outbreak occurs, it clears up quickly. I find it odd that all three problems not only have the same triggers, but also respond to the same treatment. A nice thing about L-Lysine is that you can suck on a tablet to get immediate relief (just let the tablet dissolve directly on the lesions). When I get GT it is accompanied by deep painful fissures. Sucking on a tablet really helps to relieve the discomfort. I have recently tried sucking on Benadryl tablets (an idea taken from your web page!!!). They are pretty unpleasant. But do help. The best relief so far is to suck on an L-Lysine and then follow up with the Benadryl." [March 2005]
Your treatment: If you've found a different treatment that really works, please let me know. I will post information on it if it appears to be a safe treatment, or I can post a link to another web site if you have one. As you can see above, I will not give out your last name or email address, and I'd rather suffer from awful GT every day for the rest of my life than give even one email address to the spammers! My web searches have so far not turned up any treatments other than steroids, antifungal and antibacterial medications, none of which were prescribed for me, so I cannot say whether they work. If you've tried one of these, let me know how it worked for you.
Sharing this information: Feel free to share this information or give out a link to this web page, but please don't post my email address anywhere, as I hate spam. If you link to this page, be sure to use the address http://msinow.com/home/geographic_tongue.htm (if you got here through an old link the address may show a "members.cowtown.net" address -- please do not use this address, as it is going away soon, whereas "msinow.com" is my own domain name and will always work). If you post a link to this page on another web site, I would appreciate it if you sent me an email letting me know, but I do not require it. I would prefer that you post a link to this page if you quote from it, but again I do not require it. My primary goal is to share this information and find out whether or not this treatment works for other people if they choose to try it.
Alternative names: benign migratory glossitis; glossitis areata migrans
Pregnancy and GT: I have received a number of emails from pregnant women with GT. I've heard from pregnant women who's doctor has told them many women get GT in pregnancy but that it usually goes away afterwards. I've heard from a number of women who first got GT when they were pregnant, but it never went away. I've heard from women who had GT before their first pregnancy but it had gotten much worse during their pregnancy. One woman said her GT has flared up all three times she has been pregnant. Several have told me they only have acid reflux when they are pregnant, so that may be a factor. Here is a quote from one email: "I have read a lot of different comments over the web and have noticed the high ratio of pregnant women with this problem. I am pregnant myself and as my doctor stated, everything is heightened when you are pregnant. That includes the severity of allergic reactions." So if you have GT and are pregnant, treat it (but not with fluoride or other chemicals, be careful) and hopefully you will be one of the lucky ones and your GT will go away after your child is born.
Note that I do not think there is some conspiracy to hide the cause or treatment of GT. I think there are no clear answers to these questions yet, and many "experts" are not yet ware of the small amounts of new information suggesting possible causes and treatments -- as far as I know there have been no studies of GT published in the medical journals -- what information there is seems to come from people sharing experiences and from insights of small-scale informal research and experimentation by a few medical professionals. And I realize that while my treatment works for me and might also work for lots of other people, it may turn out that it works for almost nobody other than me. Anyway, here a couple of good articles I found that address treatment of GT based on current research (though it appears little research has been done on this subject since GT is considered benign). If any of these links are bad, please let me know, as I've saved a copy of the text on these pages and can post that. If you find any other web sites which suggest a treatment for GT, please email the link to me. If you find information that suggests anything I've said on this page is wrong or outdated, please let me know. If my simple treatment does not work for you, one of these prescription treatments may help.
Great forum I found AFTER I put this page together with lots of treatments! Read this for lots of helpful ideas! Read carefully -- note that some people get great relief from taking vitamin B, while one person (Natalie) found vitamin B makes her condition worse. This is a "thread" on the Garden Web Forum. Note that the original thread filled up in 11/2002 and all 100 posts from the original thread were copied into the first "post" in this new thread. Here are links to a few other threads with good information about GT on this same forum: Geographic Tongue and also geographic tongue
Intelihealth.com article on GT -- nice article that not only states that there is no treatment but explicitly states that antibiotics do not help. I had wondered about this but only found this statement here. As far as I know it is true, so don't waste your time trying to talk your doctor into giving you antibiotics for GT.
Maxillofacialcenter.com information on GT -- suggests that antifungal and antibacterial medications are a treatment that may help with GT. I am not sure if there are any good ones that are safe, inexpensive, and available without a prescription (except possibly salt water rinses, as saltwater is a moderately effective antifungal). If you find one, let me know. Unfortunately this web site does not list specific medications, whether available without a prescription or not.
Q & A by John Wright, DDS -- suggests that the best treatment is Lidex gel (a steroid), and also suggests that Zinc supplements may help if you are deficient in Zinc.
Pictures of GT -- click on any picture to see a larger version. My GT looks most like the first picture when I have it, though I usually have very little of the white area surrounding the slick patch, and my patches are smaller and less noticeable.
Information about toothpastes:
Tongue -- Medline Plus page - too bad they say there is no treatment, but
still some good info
Glossitis -- Medline Plus page
Tongue Problems -- Medline Plus page - info on various causes of tongue problems
Pernicious anemia -- Medline Plus page - info on vitamin B12 deficiency (sore mouth is one symptom listed)
If any of the four links above have changed, please let me know. You can search for the current location of the page at MEDLINEplus® (which is "A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health"). The articles above came from the "Medical Encyclopedia" section of MEDLINEplus.
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