Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Tongue - Geographic


  • Map-like red patches on the tongue
  • Cause not known

Call or Return If

  • The tongue becomes painful
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic


  • Smooth red patches of different shapes and sizes.
  • The pattern looks like a map of islands.
  • The red patches have a whitish border
  • The shapes can change from week to week.
  • The bare spots are usually painless.
  • The child does not lose the sense of taste.
  • The condition usually occurs in children under age 6.


  • The cause is not known.
  • It may be related to food allergies or other irritants.
  • A vitamin deficiency could also be the cause. This can occur if your child is a picky eater.
  • Also, this can run in families. (genetic)
  • It's not caused by an infection.

After Care Advice

  • Geographic tongue is harmless.
  • It occurs mainly in children age 2 to 6 years.
  • It cannot spread to other children.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
  • If your child is a picky eater, start your child on a multi-vitamin. Give daily.
Avoid Triggers:
  • Avoid any foods that make it worse.
  • Usually no treatment is helpful or needed.
What to Expect:
  • The tongue returns to normal on its own.
  • This can take months up to 2 years.
  • During this time, your child won't have any symptoms.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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