Health Encyclopedia

Smooth Tongue

Smooth Tongue

Smooth tongue is a condition in which the normal rough surface (papillae) of the tongue shrinks or disappears, making the tongue look bald or shiny and thin. Without this rough surface, the tongue may be tender and sensitive to spicy foods.

This problem can occur because of a lack of folic acid, iron, riboflavin, or vitamin B12 in the diet over a long period of time. With adequate nutrition, symptoms generally begin to improve within 2 weeks, and the tongue may return to normal appearance within a month.

A person with a smooth tongue should avoid irritants, such as spicy foods, alcohol, and smoking or using smokeless (chewing) tobacco. A prescription anesthetic ointment may help relieve the discomfort and tenderness.

Last Revised: July 20, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

USNWR 2013-2014Magnet Hospital RecognitionConsumer Choice2014 Best DoctorsJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.