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What is a geographic tongue?

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Quick Answer

Geographic tongue is a minor condition in which parts of the surface of the tongue are missing papillae, or fine, hair-like projections, according to Mayo Clinic. This causes the tongue to look as though it has smooth, red bumps or patches.

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Full Answer

Geographic tongue gets it name from the red patches causing a map-like appearance on the tongue, as stated by WebMD. Symptoms include sensitivity to acidic, salty or spicy foods, and the bumps frequently change locations on the tongue, as claimed by Mayo Clinic. Geographic tongue is not linked to any kind of infection or cancer, so it is harmless, says WebMD. This condition may last up to a year.

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