Monday, March 10, 2014

What is Hairy Tongue: Pathogenesis Clinical Features and Treatment


Definition Hairy tongue is an unusual condition which occurs due to hypertrophy of the filliform papilla of the tongue along with loss of normal desquamation process This eventually leads to the formation of a pigmented thick matted layer on the tongue surface heavily coated with bacteria and fungi.


Pathogenesis: Why hairy tongue occur 

Hairy tongue


Normally the keratinized surface layers of the tongue papillae are continuously desquamated thourg

friction of the tongue with food, rough palate and upper anterior teeth. After desquamation tongue papillae are replaced by newer epithelial cells from below.

Lack of tongue movement due to local or systemic disease disturb the regular shedding of the keratin of the tongue papilla especially the filliform papilla.which lengthens and produces a hairy appearance on tongue surface.


Such hypertrophic papillae are often coated with microorganisms and become discolored by retaining pigments from foods, medicines and chromogenic bacteria etc.


Clinical Features of hairy tongue how does it look

  • Hairy tongue commonly affects the mid dorsum of the tongue.
  • Hypertrophy of the filliform papilla produces a thick matted layer on the dorsal surface hairy tongue in extreme cases may produce a thick lathery layer coating on the tongue surface and this condition is often known as early or encrusted tongue.
  • Hypertrophied filliform papilla often brushes sfot palate and produces gagging reflex.
  • Hairy tongue in many cases produces bad breath.
  • There can be irritation to the tongue due to accumulation of food debris and microorganisms.
  • Hairy tongue is considered as mirror of general health. Because it is associated with various systemic disease.


Treatment of hairy tongue.

  • Cleaning and scraping of tongue everyday
  • Application of topical keratolytic agents
  • Consumption of yogurt
  • The effected tongue papilla often rapidly returns to normal when long term antibiotics or oterh drugs are discontinued.



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