Benign migratory glossitis or geographic tongue: an enigmatic oral lesion

Am J Med. 2002 Dec 15;113(9):751-5. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(02)01379-7.


Benign migratory glossitis, or geographic tongue, is usually an asymptomatic inflammatory disorder of unknown etiology that affects the epithelium of the tongue. Local loss of filiform papillae leads to ulcer-like lesions that rapidly change the color and size. Histopathologic findings parallel the clinical appearance, and may have a psoriasiform pattern. The disorder is characterized by exacerbations and remissions. In most cases, patients do not require treatment other than reassurance about the benign nature of the disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Glossitis, Benign Migratory* / epidemiology
  • Glossitis, Benign Migratory* / etiology
  • Glossitis, Benign Migratory* / pathology
  • Glossitis, Benign Migratory* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Tongue / pathology