Fissured tongue

Fissured tongue

Chris Schach

Author Bio -


Key Points
*Benign condition affecting the top surface of the tongue
*Exact cause is unknown, but may either be associated with an underlying disorder or be inherited
*Can begin during childhood, but often presents or becomes more severe in adulthood
*Consists of grooves on the upper surface of the tongue

Fissured tongue is a condition in which grooves form in the upper surface of the tongue, and may spread to the edges of the tongue. Fissure size is variable, and in severe cases, they may become interconnected. The fissures are commonly painless unless food or other debris becomes trapped in the grooves.

The exact cause of fissured tongue is unknown. While it can occur hereditarily, it is often associated with underlying disorders, such as geographic tongue, Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome, Down syndrome, and psoriasis.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)
Cheilitis granulomatosa
Geographic tongue

Key Points
*Diagnosis based on appearance of the affected area
*Skin biopsy is usually unnecessary due to the characteristic appearance of the tongue
*Additional testing may be performed if underlying disorders are suspected

Fissured tongue is generally diagnosed based on appearance. Skin biopsy is generally unnecessary due to the characteristic clinical symptoms of the condition. If the condition is suspected to be related to an underlying condition, additional testing may be performed.

*As the condition is benign, treatment is not generally required
*Removal of debris through brushing is recommended to reduce the chance of irritation or infection

Fissured tongue is benign, so treatment is generally not required. Removal of debris by brushing the surface of the tongue will prevent irritation of the area and reduce the chance of infection. If infection occurs, health care professionals will treat it accordingly. If an underlying condition is diagnosed during testing, appropriate treatment for that condition will be administered.

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