What I learned about ugly tongues!

Hannah hasn’t been well over the past few days, on Saturday, just before we went out to a 30th birthday party, she threw up. Again on Sunday morning and then she just stopped eating. I noticed some odd lesions on her tongue on Sunday and after taking to Dr Google, as you do, for once Dr Google gave me an answer that didn’t convince me that she was infected with some rare, contagious tropical disease – geographic tongue!

Image Credit - Mayo Clinic

Image Credit – Mayo Clinic

When Hannah still wouldn’t eat on Monday and complaining that her tongue was sore, we headed off to our Dr, where he diagnosed her with tonsillitis and what Dr Google had diagnosed – geographic tongue.

I was relieved to discover that geographic tongue is not contagious, it occurs when the layers of the tongue are missing papillea, giving it a map like appearance that can vary in size and shape. Hannah has it currently on the one side of her tongue and it is completely benign and the most common cause/link is genetic.  It’s more common in women than in men and usually only seen in middle aged people. It is also common for geographic tongue to accompany psoriasis or a fissured tongue.

What surprised me the most is that it has no cure and while it will come and go and in varying degrees, it will be something Hannah will have on and off for the remainder of her life. I’m burning to know if it’s something that either of her birth parents have as it’s most commonly caused by genetics or a Vitamin B6 deficiency, which she definitely doesn’t have.

Only the symptoms can be treated with over the counter pain killers and anti-inflammatories, antiseptic mouth washes and zinc supplements. Also hot, spicy foods should be avoided while having a flare up and I felt awful when I read that after encouraging Hannah to eat bobotie on Sunday which she complained about the entire time.

Apparently only 1 to 3 percent of the population will battle with geographic tongue (lucky Hannah) and of those, only 1 in 10 will suffer with pain or discomfort. Now we just need to establish if the reason for her not eating over the last few days is from a sore tongue or from the tonsillitis she’s struggling with!

I will say this… during my research into Hannah’s bizarre tongue affliction, I came to one conclusion…. tongues are UGLY!


  • Liz

    September 8, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I get this occasionally and adding a Vitamin B6 supplement totally clears it up! It’s generally when I’m run down or stressed, so Hannah’s tonsilitis could explain it.

  • JulieB

    September 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Ouchie. Not fun. A friend’s little boy has it, too. Appeared the first time after a horrible bout of flu. She uses homeopathic drops but not sure of the contents/remedy. (you’re right – tongues are ugly. Lol)

  • Debs

    September 8, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Poor little thing:( I have suffered with mouth ulcers my entire life, some lasting longer than a month. I’ve tried every mouthwash, cream, rinse on the market and have found the only thing to bring some relief, is rinsing my mouth out with green tea 3 times a day. I know, it sounds nuts. Not sure if its fine for kids though, might need to consult Dr Google again. Hope she gets better soon x

  • paddatjiesema

    September 8, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I agree 100% with the statement that you should not google tongues. (I’m still getting nightmares about the black hairy one). My reason for googling in the first place. My 4 year old son also has geographic tongue. And it does come and go. When he does have it he can’t tolerate anything salty. I’ve tried probiotics, and it seems to help, but the moment I stop it comes back. And, recently he was put on reflux medication, and he hasn’t had it since then, but it could just be one of the times it has gone away, so I’m not 100% sure that it went away because of the meds. Oh, btw, no-one else in the family has it or has ever even heard of it.

  • Paula

    September 8, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Rachel also has it – she calls it her geograffalo tongue! She has no symptoms and neither side of our family has it. Very weird but she is quite proud of it!

  • Kerry Vollmer

    September 9, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Snap. Demi discovered she has a geographic tongue the other day. She asked me to show her my tongue which I did and noted that I have the very same disorder as diagnosed by Dr Google. She said our protective coverings are missing, the result is everyone she meets has to stick out their tongue. We believe ours is genetic because both my parents have it, however my son and my brother don’t.

  • Suzy

    March 21, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    I’m 60 yrs old and have had a geographic tongue for as long as I can remember. I’ve only had discomfort about 5% of the time . I also have fissures on my tongue. It’s kinda ugly so sticking out tongue at anybody.. lol. Nothing you can do about it.


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