Definition and etiology : Geographic tongue or erythema migrans presents as multiple, well-demarcated patches of erythema surrounded by a thin, raised, whitish border. Characteristically, the lesions persist for a short time in one area, disappear within a few days, and then develop in another area. The dorsal surface of the tongue is the site of predilection, but infrequently the lesions may appear at other mucosal sites. The diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical criteria.
Differential diagnosis: Psoriasis, Reiter syndrome, plasma-cell stomatitis, mucous patches of secondary syphilis, candidiasis.
Treatment: No treatment is required.
Geographic tongue is an inflammatory but harmless condition affecting the surface of your tongue. The tongue is normally covered with tiny, pinkish-white bumps (papillae), which are actually short, fine, hairlike projections. With geographic tongue, patches on the surface of the tongue are missing papillae and appear as smooth, red “islands,” often with slightly raised borders.These patches (lesions) give the tongue a maplike, or geographic, appearance. The lesions often heal in one area and then move (migrate) to a different part of your tongue. Geographic tongue is also known as benign migratory glossitis.
Although geographic tongue may look alarming, it doesn’t cause health problems and isn’t associated with infection or cancer. Geographic tongue can sometimes cause tongue discomfort and increased sensitivity to certain substances, such as spices, salt and even sweets.