CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
The cause of geographic tongue is unknown, and there's no way to prevent the condition.
The lesions on the tongue result from the activity of certain types of white blood cells that normally induce inflammation at the site of disease or injury. The reason for this immune system error isn't well understood.
Some people with geographic tongue have a family history of the disorder. Therefore, genetics may be a contributing factor in some cases.
- Assimakopoulos D, et al. Benign migratory glossitis or geographic tongue: An enigmatic oral lesion. American Journal of Medicine. 2002;113:751.
- Byrd JA, et al. Glossitis and other tongue disorders. Dermatologic Clinics. 2003;21:123.
- Reamy BV, et al. Common tongue conditions in primary care. American Family Physician. 2010;81:627.
- Shulman JD, et al. Prevalence and risk factors associated with geographic tongue among US adults. Oral Diseases. 2006;12:381.
- Carr AB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 23, 2010.