What are the Causes of a Green Tongue, Know its Treatment, Complications, Prognosis

As you may have noticed in the mirror, your tongue is normally pink in color with usually a smooth surface. But sometimes, your tongue can develop a different color due to different reasons or medical issues. One of the colors which your tongue can turn into is green. In this article, we will discuss the various causes of a green tongue.

What are the Causes of a Green Tongue?

What are the Causes of a Green Tongue?

There are difference causes for a green tongue. A green tongue can initially be white in color before taking on the greenish hue. A tongue can change into green in color in due time with drinking, eating or due to certain medications.

Some Of The Common Causes Of A Green Tongue Are:

Geographic Tongue Resulting in Green Tongue

Geographic tongue is characterized by harmless lesions on the tongue, which can vary in color. The patches on the geographic tongue can initially be seen as red with elevated white borders; and over a period of time, these patches can change into green color.

In Geographic tongue, other than green tongue, symptoms consist of: irregular shaped lesions on the tongue; these lesions tend to move from one place to another on the tongue; burning sensation on the tongue.

Green Tongue Caused by Hairy Tongue Syndrome

Hairy tongue is caused by accumulation of certain type of cells on the tongue resulting in “hairy” or rough appearance of the tongue. Due to the rough surface of the tongue, organisms such as yeast and bacteria thrive on the tongue giving it a green color. A color change is even more common after eating certain types of foods or drinks, or using certain products. Other than a green tongue, hairy tongue symptoms also include: burning sensation on the tongue, tickling or gagging sensation, bad breath and lack of taste or abnormal taste on the tongue.

Green Tongue Caused by Oral Cancer

Green tongue can rarely indicate Oral cancer. A patient suffers from growth or lesions on the tongue in oral cancer. When there is growth of yeast or bacteria on these tongue lesions, and when you consume certain drinks or foods, then you might end up with a green tongue.

Other symptoms of oral cancer consist of: a sore or lesion on the tongue, which does not heal, bleeding on the tongue, numbness in the lower lip, neck, face, chin; dramatic weight loss etc.

Oral Thrush Leading to Green Tongue

Oral thrush is a condition where there overgrowth of yeast on the tongue and within the mouth. This overgrowth of fungus on the tongue at first appears white, but changes into green color after some time as the fungal infection increases. Additional symptoms of oral thrush other than a green tongue are: white bumps on the tongue; bleeding upon touching of the bumps; pain in the bumps; difficulty in swallowing.

Green Tongue Caused by Lichen Planus

Lichen Planus is a condition where there is occurrence of rashes causing tongue discoloration, such as a green tongue. Most of the times, lichen planus on the tongue appears as white color, which changes into green color when there is growth of yeast or bacteria on the tongue, when certain drinks or foods are consumed, or when certain products are used resulting in a green tongue.

What is the Treatment of Green Tongue?

  • Treatment for green tongue is done according to the cause of the green tongue.
  • Treatment of green tongue caused by fungal or yeast infections included antifungal medications, such as clotrimazole, fluconazole or nystatin.

Other Than This, Following Simple Tips At Home Helps In Treating The Green Tongue Caused By Fungal Infection:

  • Change your toothbrush daily until the infection resolves.
  • Gently brush your teeth softly and avoid touching the lesions in the mouth.
  • Use saltwater solution to rinse your mouth.
  • Do not use mouthwashes or sprays.
  • If you have diabetes, then make sure your sugar is under control.
  • Consume plenty of plain yogurt to regain the balance of good bacteria in your body.

If The Cause Of Green Tongue Is Inflammation, Then Its Treatment Consists Of:

  • Corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce inflammation and resolve the green tongue.
  • Antihistamines are also prescribed to reduce the inflammation and fight any allergic reaction causing the green tongue.
  • Over-the-counter pain killers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen help in relieving the pain on the tongue.
  • In case of green tongue caused by inflammation, patient needs to avoid foods and drinks which cause irritation to the tongue.
  • If the cause of green tongue is cancer, then treatment consists of: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Whatever the cause of green tongue, it is important to follow good oral hygiene to treat as well as prevent green tongue.

Are There Any Complications With Green Tongue?

Well, the green tongue doesn’t look good, appearance wise, so that is there. Other than this, whatever the cause of green tongue, it is important to seek the right treatment ASAP to avoid more serious complications in future.

What’s the Prognosis of Green Tongue?

Most of the times, green tongue is a temporary condition; and resolves quickly with the right treatment. Prognosis of green tongue is often good with the right treatment.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 8, 2019

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