4 abnormal tongue appearances and their causes

A healthy tongue is usually pink and covered with small nodules (papillae). Any changes in your tongue’s normal appearance accompanied by pain may be a sign of an underlying medical problem. Here are a few changes to look out for and what they could potentially indicate:

  • A sore and bumpy tongue could be due to trauma, smoking, canker sores, or an early sign of oral cancer.
  • A white coating or white spots on the tongue could indicate oral thrush, leukoplakia, or oral lichen planus.
  • A black tongue with excessively long papillae could be a sign of severe bacterial growth on the tongue due to poor dental hygiene.
  • A red tongue could be a sign of folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies. However, a strawberry-like appearance may be a result of scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease.

Seek immediate medical intervention if you notice any of the above signs.

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