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Scrotal Tongue

What Is It?

Scrotal tongue is a condition in which fissures develop in the tongue, making it look wrinkled. The condition also is called furrowed tongue, lingua fissurata, lingua plicata, lingua scrotalis, plicated tongue or grooved tongue. There can be many fissures or a single groove down the middle of the tongue with fissures branching off from it. Scrotal tongue affects between 1% to 5% of the population of the United States, but as much as 21% of people worldwide.

People usually are born with this condition, but may not notice it until they get older. It becomes more noticeable as you age. Sometimes, scrotal tongue develops as a result of infection or malnutrition. It also is seen in people with certain health conditions, such as Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (a neurological disorder characterized by facial swelling, especially of the lips, nerve palsy and scrotal tongue), Down syndrome, and benign migratory glossitis, or geographic tongue, in which irregular patches of smooth or bald tongue are interspersed with rougher areas where the taste buds are normal.

Symptoms

This is a harmless condition that usually has no symptoms. Sometimes, the fissures may get deep enough that eating certain spicy or acidic foods, such as vinegar or salt, can cause a burning sensation, but this is fairly rare. Also, if the fissures are deep enough, they may harbor colonies of bacteria or debris from food, leading to bad breath or fungal infections of the tongue.

Diagnosis

Generally, people don't even know they have this condition until their dentist tells them. Your dentist can diagnose this condition by looking at your tongue.

Expected Duration

Scrotal tongue is a lifelong condition.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent scrotal tongue.

Treatment

There is no treatment for scrotal tongue. If you are experiencing burning or infection, you should avoid the foods that bother you, and make sure you follow good tongue hygiene, including cleaning your tongue daily with a special tongue scraper, available in drugstores.

When To Call A Professional

Check with your dentist if the fissures become uncomfortable.

Prognosis

Scrotal tongue is a lifelong condition, but it usually does not cause discomfort or problems.


©2002-2005 Aetna, Inc. All rights reserved.

Reviewed by the faculty of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

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