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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Black hairy tongue

*

* Not a rare disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Hairy tongue
  • Lingua villosa
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

Black hairy tongue is a relatively common condition in which the the central top portion of the tongue presents with an abnormal coloring and coating. Although the abnormal coating is typically black in color, brown, yellow, and green discoloration have been described. Individuals with black hairy tongue usually do not have symptoms, although occasionally there may be a burning, gagging, or tickling sensation. Halitosis (bad breath) or abnormal taste may additionally be present. Black hairy tongue can occur at any age, but the incidence increases with age. Black hairy tongue occurs due to a lack of stimulation on the top of the tongue resulting in a buildup of a protein known as keratin. This buildup can become quite long, giving it a hair-like appearance. Though black hairy tongue can present at any point, certain factors increase one's risk, such as poor oral hygiene, use of medications (particularly antibiotics), tobacco use, therapeutic radiation, and certain illnesses. Treatment varies depending on complexity; however, many cases can easily be resolved with brushing the tongue with a toothbrush or using a tongue scraper.[1][2][3]
Last updated: 5/19/2016

References

  1. Gary L Stafford. Hairy Tongue. Medscape. October 22, 2015; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1075886-overview.
  2. L Radfar and the AAOM Web Writing Group. Hairy Tongue. American Academy of Oral Medicine. May 13, 2015; http://www.aaom.com/hairy-tongue.
  3. Grigoriy E Gurvits, Amy Tan. Black hairy tongue syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology. August 21, 2014; 20(31):10845-10850. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4138463/.
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Basic Information

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Black hairy tongue. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
Other Names for this Disease
  • Hairy tongue
  • Lingua villosa
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.