The tongue's papillae may become discolored if a person smokes or chews tobacco, eats certain foods or vitamins, or has colored bacteria growing on the tongue.
Black discoloration on the top of the tongue may occur if a person takes bismuth preparations for an upset stomach. Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush or scraping it with a tongue scraper can remove such discoloration.
A strawberry-red tongue may be the first sign of scarlet fever or, in a young child, a sign of Kawasaki disease.
A smooth red tongue and painful mouth may indicate general inflammation of the tongue (glossitis) or be caused by pellagra, a type of undernutrition caused by a deficiency of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet.
Whitish patches on the tongue, similar to those sometimes found inside the cheeks, may accompany
In geographic tongue, some areas of the tongue are white or yellow and rough, whereas others are red and smooth. The areas of discoloration often move around over a period of weeks to years. The condition is usually painless, and no treatment is needed. If people have symptoms, applying low doses of corticosteroids sometimes helps.