White Patches On Tongue: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

White patch on tongue, commonly known as Leukoplakia, refers to a condition in which white and thickened patches form on the tongue as well as on the gum, bottom of the mouth and inside the cheeks. These white patches do not scrape off easily but tend to exist firmly thereby warranting immediate medical attention.

Doctors believe, tobacco consumed in any form, leads to this disease. Vast majority of Leukoplakia cases tend to be benign. However, there have been cases of mouth cancer developing in areas surrounding a white patch on tongue. If you notice any such unusual patches in your mouth, it is important to consult a physician.

Hairy Leukoplakia of mouth is also a rare form of Leukoplakia. This form of the disease is mainly caused by Epstein-Barr virus and is found in people infected with HIV. In this case, fuzzy white patches grow on the tongue and appear like thrush, an infectious condition caused by Candida fungus.

Symptoms Of White Patches On Tongue

White patches on tongue look unusual in the mouth and differ in size and appearance. Leukoplakia is commonly marked by hard, thick and raised surface. In case of hairy leukoplakia, the surface of the white patches on the tongue wears a fuzzy or hairy look.

In some rare instances, white patches may have red spots, signalling that the spots may be cancerous. These symptoms together may make it difficult to use the tongue for normal activities like talking, chewing or drinking.

What Causes White Patches On Tongue?

Chronic smoking along with other forms of tobacco consumption is the prime cause of this disease. People who smoke pipes are more prone to catch the symptoms of leukoplakia than regular smokers. Individuals who tend to bite their cheeks may also develop white patches in their mouth.

Rough and uneven teeth or ill-fitted dentures which scratch against tongue, cheek and gum can also lead to this disease.

HIV infected people or AIDS patients tend to get white patches on their tongue mainly due to Epstein-Barr virus.

Treatment Options For White Patches On Tongue

Usually oral white patches do not respond to treatment. A physician would first recommend a biopsy test of the area to ensure the affliction isn’t cancerous. If it isn’t cancerous, doctors may perform laser therapy or undertake a scalpel procedure to remove the patches and prevent it from spreading. If the patches are big in size, oral surgery becomes mandatory.

There is no effective medication or procedure to stop the disease from becoming malignant. In most instances the treatment leads to a temporary cure.

Hairy Leukoplakia, on the other hand, can be effectively checked by administering antiviral medicines. Sometimes doctors also recommend tropical ointments for reducing the size of the patch.

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