The top surface of a normal tongue is typically smooth, with a slight groove down the center (called the midline). However, if you were to look at your tongue under a strong magnifying glass or microscope, you would see that the top surface is actually covered by tiny raised structures. The most numerous of these are small, slender, cone-shaped structures called filiform papillae.

Migratory glossitis, or geographic tongue, is a chronic inflammation characterized by random shedding of patches of the filiform papillae. This results in irregular, well-defined red lesions on the tongue's surface where the loss of papillae has occurred. They are bordered by a white line or band of necrotic (dead) filiform papillae which will ultimately slough off. If you have migratory glossitis, your tongue will likely have a map-like (geographic) appearance as a result of the prominently-bordered lesions described above. Migratory glossitis doesn't usually present any symptoms other than an occasional burning sensation or increased sensitivity on the tongue. These symptoms may persist for several weeks, spontaneously disappear, then return again at unpredictable intervals. The lesions usually reappear in different locations on the tongue upon each outbreak.

Migratory glossitis can occur in anyone over two years of age, and is twice as common in females as in males. The condition is often associated with food allergies or with a fissured tongue. Increased stress may also trigger an outbreak.

result of the condition, we may recommend that you apply topical vitamin A (also called retinoic acid) for relief.