“A hairy tongue – what on earth is that?” Well, if this is the question that is on the tip of your tongue then it means you do not suffer from this condition as of now. And you would agree that it might be a good idea to keep your tongue free from hair for all times to come. However, you might want to know how does one end up with hairs on one’s tongue and what can one do to avoid that.
Hairy tongue, referred to as lingua villosa in medical lexicon, is a fairly common condition. This can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, fungi, or even yeast in the mouth. In time, this build up might get aggravated because of your tongues inability to shed old skin cells. Initially, it might cause your tongue to look off-color, brown, black, or green – or any color other than its natural color.
Hairy tongue is usually caused by poor oral hygiene but not always. There are several other causes, such as smoking, excessive tea or coffee consumption, dehydration, excessive use of mouthwashes, consumption of alcohol, and taking medication or other products that contain bismuth. The condition is also observed in patients with immunodeficiency conditions such as AIDS.
Hairy tongue looks grotesque. However, it does not cause any major discomfort or pain. At the most, patients have reported a tickling feeling at the roof of their mouth or a metallic taste. Extreme cases have reported having a feeling of gagging. However, people with hairy tongue may develop painful secondary infection of mouth thrush, or Candida Albicans. This infection causes a burning sensation on the tongue.
The key to preventing or controlling hairy tongue is maintaining good oral hygiene. Some of the other steps include using anti-fungal creams, modifying your diet to reduce the intake of soft food and to have more of fibrous food. Cutting down your tea, coffee, and alcohol intake also helps in controlling the condition.
If none of these methods deliver your tongue of the hairs, go and see a good doctor. The doctor might want to rule out hairy leukoplakia first, a condition in which the sides of your tongue develop white patches. Leukoplakia is usually seen in people with weak immune systems.
Next, the doctor might provide a course of treatment depending on the causes of your hairy tongue. For example, the doctor may put you on antibiotics if the underlying cause is a bacterial infection. If your condition is severe, the doctor might remove the infected pappilae using techniques such as carbon dioxide laser burning and electrodessication.