Tongue Peeling Off: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

HomeTonguePeeling TongueTongue Peeling Off: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Tongue peeling is very common after eating sour candy, very salty foods and vinegar chips. It is also common in people who suffer from a geographic tongue. In some cases, STDs, pregnancy and some fungal infections can cause the tongue skin to peel underneath. Here are causes and treatments.

When your tongue starts to peel, it may be a sign of an STD, geographic tongue or something else more serious. For the most part, most people describe the peeling of the tongue when they actually mean the tongue has a white coating that is peeling off.

When you first wake up in the morning, stand in front of the mirror that is close to a window that has plenty of natural light shining into the mouth to check for any tongue peeling signs. Make sure that the tongue is very flat and more relaxed when extended.

Do not brush the teeth or the tongue first—doing so can remove important evidence. Be sure to examine the tongue in the morning—the color and other features of the tongue can change somewhat throughout the day.

Tongue peeling causes

What causes the tongue to peel off? When the skin on your tongue starts to tear off, it may mean that there is a serious irritant in your mouth. This may come from infections, some foods, STDs and some problems in pregnancy.

1. Tongue peeling due to STD

STIs and the STDs are infections and diseases that are passed sexually from a person to another. All kinds of sex, vaginal and oral, have the potential to lead to infections and diseases. For this particular reason being tested before taking part in any of the sexual activities as mentioned with a new partner and practicing safe sex with the partner is very crucial.

The range of severity in the symptoms and consequences of sexually transmitted diseases and infections is very big. Symptoms might be as benign as burning during the urination or as much severe as chronic pain.

Consequences might be as small as a trip to a doctor for a complete diagnosis and treatment or as grave as infertility, shortened lifespan or chronic illness. Both for your safety and the safety of the partner or partners, it is relevant to keep current with STD tests and also to be able to recognize when you may possibly have acquired the STD.

Through proper diagnosis with regard to tongue peeling in relation to the STDs, you will find details of the following:

  • Common Symptoms of STIs and STDs
  • Chlamydia
  • Genital Herpes (HSV)
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV and AIDS

Other than the oral signs or signs that appear in your mouth, you should look out for some signs of sexually transmitted infections. These might show together with the signs on your tongue, mouth and throat. Some of the common symptoms of STDs as well as STIs are:

  • Itching around the vagina or discharge from the vagina for the women
  • Colored discharge from the penis for men
  • Pain during sex, especially when urinating or in the pelvic area
  • Sore throat in individuals who have oral sex
  • Pain in the anus for people who usually have anal sex
  • Chancre sores on the genital area, anus, tongue and/or throat
  • A scaly rash on the palms of hands and the soles of feet
  • Dark urine, light-colored stools, and yellow eyes and skin
  • Small blisters that turn to scabs on the genital area
  • Swollen glands and body aches
  • Unusual infections, night sweats and weight loss
  • Soft, flesh-colored warts around the genital area

2. Tongue peeling after eating salt and vinegar chips

Before vinegar can be added to a chip, it requires to be processed into a dry foodstuff that will stick to, and more crucial not sog out a potato chip.

Most of the people use a process that involves spraying of a thin layer of vinegar to a maltodextrin (a slightly sweet, flavorless powder derived from starch) or other modified food starch.

Maltodextrin’s porous structure normally absorbs a great deal of the vinegar flavor, and the mixture can also be dried into a very robust powder. Alternatively, most of the people use sodium diacetate, in a 1:1 ratio of sodium acetate and the acetic acid that gives salt and vinegar a flavor in a dry mixture.

The roof of the mouth is a very sensitive area. The smallest abnormality may feel big enough when the tongue swipes at it on the palate. Soreness that appears on the roof of the mouth after you eat can stem from a variety of all possible causes.

  • Burning of the roof of the mouth or even tongue peeling while eating may lead to significant soreness afterward, sometimes for many days.
  • Your palate is too delicate. The high internal temperatures of coffee and other hot beverages or other similar dishes may burn the palate much easily, even if you take very small bites or sips.

The simple solution to the problem is to prevent burns on the roof of the mouth by allowing of the food to cool before trying to eat. Lift the cheese layer up away from the rest of the food so as to let steam escape before taking a bite.

  • The tongue can become sore after eating meals consumed later in the day if you suffer from burning mouth syndrome.
  • As the name indicates, the primary symptom of a burning mouth syndrome is a burning sensation in mouth and tongue peeling.
  • The mouth can also feel sore and thus become dry.

Symptoms usually increase throughout the day and mostly recede while you sleep. The timing of the increase in the pain may coincide with dinner as the day progresses and you might experience an excessive soreness after the mealtime

Regardless of the exact cause of the sore palate, the adjustments that you make to the diet may minimize all the symptoms.

Foods that are very much acidic, such as the tomatoes as well as tomato-based sauces and carbonated soft drinks, and the spicy foods such as the salsa, chili and jalapeno seasonings can make the tongue to peel off and its symptoms to intensify.

Stick to a bland diet when you have soreness in the roof of mouth. Eating ice chips or ice pops can assist you feel better

3. Geographic tongue

Geographic tongue is a harmless condition that affects the surface of the tongue. The tongue is usually covered with pinkish-white bumps (papillae) that are actually short, hair-like projections.

With geographic tongue, the patches on the surface of the tongue misses papillae and look as smooth, red islands often with slightly raised borders.

These patches (also called lesions) give the tongue a map-like, or a geographic, appearance. The lesions normally heal in one area and move to a different location of your tongue. Geographic tongue is also called benign migratory glossitis.

Although geographic tongue may appear very alarming, it doesn’t lead to health problems and isn’t related to infection or cancer. Geographic tongue may sometimes lead to tongue discomfort and much increased sensitivity to some substances.

Signs and symptoms of the geographic tongue may are:

  • Smooth, red or irregularly shaped patches on the top or side of the tongue
  • Frequent changes that are found in the location, size and shape of lesions
  • Discomfort, the pain or even burning sensation in some of the cases, mostly related to eating spicy, salty or the acidic foods

Most of the people who have geographic tongue have no other symptoms.

Geographic tongue may persist for several months or years. The problem resolves on its own but may also appear again at a later time.

Geographic tongue is the name of the condition that gets its name from the map-like look of the upper surface and even sides of the tongue. It can happen in other areas of the mouth, as well.

You’ll be relieved much to know that the geographic tongue is very harmless, benign condition that isn’t linked to the infection or cancer. Two other names for the geographic tongue are benign migratory glossitis and even erythema migrans.

  • Affecting about 3% of people, geographic tongue may however show up at any age.
  • However, it tends to affect mostly middle-aged or the older adults more often.
  • It seems to be very common in women than in men.

Geographic tongue is a very minor although uncomfortable condition. However, the tongue peeling can indicate other very serious conditions of the tongue or even diseases that are affecting the body in general.

If you experience the lesions on the tongue that don’t normally resolve within 10 days, see the doctor or dentist.

Geographic tongue happens when parts of the tongue are missing some layers of small bumps known as papillae. They usually cover the entire upper layer of the tongue. Nobody understands for sure. However, due to geographic tongue tending to run in families, genetics may be a common link.

Geographic tongue peeling has also been frequently in people who have psoriasis and in the people who have fissured tongue. In fissured tongue, several cracks and grooves are seen on the tops and the sides of the tongue.

The exact cause of geographic tongue is not established, and there’s no given way to prevent the condition. There might be a link between a geographic tongue and psoriasis which is a chronic skin condition but research is required to better understand the connection.

Studies of the factors that may be related to an increased risk of the geographic tongue have produced several mixed results.

Factors that are most likely associated with increased risk are:

  • Family history. Some people who have geographic tongue have a family history of the disorder, so the inherited genetic factors may increase risk.
  • Fissured tongue. People who have geographic tongue normally have another disorder known as fissured tongue, the appearance of the deep fissures, or even grooves, on the surface of the tongue.

Geographic tongue is also a benign condition. It doesn’t pose any threat to the health, lead to a long-term complications or even increase the risk of major health problems.

However, anxiety about the condition is normally common due to:

  • The appearance of the tongue can be much embarrassing, depending on how visible the lesions are
  • It can be very difficult to be reassured that there is as nothing seriously wrong

Seeing a dentist or even doctor is the perfect way to rule out more serious problem. In most of the cases, he can diagnose the geographic tongue from the description of symptoms that includes tongue peeling and also from examining the mouth as well as the tongue. You might require tests to rule out any other medical conditions.

In most of the cases, any pain or even discomfort can get better without any treatment. But if you have severe, ongoing pain, medication can assist greatly. These are the examples of what the doctor or dentist can prescribe:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Corticosteroids used directly on the tongue
  • Zinc supplements. Our best recommendation is New Chapter Zinc Food Complex for Skin Health (Check price on Amazon)

If you’re wondering about the steps you can take so as to hasten the relief of the symptoms, try limiting of the substances or even avoid them altogether:

  • Tobacco
  • Hot or acidic foods or even dried, salty nuts
  • Toothpaste that have additives, whitening agents, or even heavy flavoring (toothpaste that are used for sensitive teeth is a better choice)

Discolored tongue and peeling skin

A bright pink or a pale red tongue is perfect. White or bright red shades are normally signs of possible health problems. For instance;

1. Pale or white tongue peeling

These signify circulatory problems, like anemia, leading to a reduction in the red blood cells as well as oxygen, or even adrenal difficulties (often accompanied by certain fatigue). It may also be a warning indication of a chronic illness of the digestive tract and the circulatory system, or of hypothyroidism (indicating low thyroid function).

2. Redder-than-usual tongue peeling

This is usually a sign of excess acid that is in the body, dehydration, inflammation or even a bacterial infection. The condition might also be brought by stimulants or very poor eating habits. The more severe the problem, the redder the tongue.

3. Red-tipped tongue, with the rest of the tongue pink

This can indicate thyroid or even cardiac problems. If the sides of the tongue are the reddest, this can be an indication of the liver or gallbladder problems. If only the center of the tongue appears unusually red, this indicates stomach problems.

Canker sores on the sides of the tongue often happen with the intestinal distress, such as the celiac disease, or mouth breathing that dries the tongue and can allow the sores to develop.

4. Purple tongue and peeling

A purple tongue and peeling is a sign of blood stasis, a slowing or even pooling of blood. It might signal a cardiac or kidney condition.

Texture and Coatings on Tongue Peeling Off

A healthy tongue is very smooth, with a thinner, white see-through kind of a fur covering the upper layer, showing proper digestive functioning.

But a thicker, patchy or even a colored coating irregular shapes as well as surfaces, can imply health issues. For instance;

  • White coating usually occurs during a cold or even the flu. The opaque coating indicates toxins exiting the system. In addition to the cold or a flu, the white coating may result when a person undergoes a dietary detoxification program for a few number of weeks.
  • Patchy coating, appears as a white-bordered blotches, can signify a stomach issue (the coating seems to be a bacterial response to the stomach problems), or shows an autoimmune condition, like the rheumatoid arthritis or allergies.
  • Yellowish coating shows a stomach, liver or even a gallbladder condition.
  • Gray or grayish-black coating shows long-term stomach or even the intestinal problems. Candida (yeast), also called thrush, or any other fungal infections produce hydrogen sulfide that can turn the tongue white to gray.
  • Dry surface can indicate overall dehydration, poor kidney or even a heart function, or iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Cracked surface may happen as a result of a general vitamin deficiency or even a poorly balanced diet. A long deep midline crack that reaches the tip can suggest a cardiac condition, while the short horizontal cracks are linked to the kidney problems.
  • Excessively shiny coating that you aren’t able to observe the taste buds, suggests a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Tongue skin peeling symptoms

There are several causes of tongue peeling that ranges from harmless to very serious. Individuals may be born with a tongue condition that is very harmless.

A serious condition like the tongue cancer might be related to the risk factors such as smoking as well as drinking alcohol. Additionally, the tongue problem might be as a result of an underlying medical condition.

Some of the common problems that are related to the tongue include:

  • discoloration,
  • abnormalities of the surface,
  • taste concerns, and
  • Difficulty with the movement.

Leukoplakia is normally characterized by the white patches that may not be scraped off and can be related to the chronic irritation in the mouth, although the cause is not always established. Tobacco use is the most common factor that leads to leukoplakia.

  • The condition can resolve after you quit smoking.
  • Sometimes the patches are normally on the sides of the tongue and may be related to the constant rubbing that is next to the lower teeth.
  • Although leukoplakia is normally benign, it might be the precursor to oral cancer. The risk of such cancer increases with the age of the individual and number of lesions present.

A biopsy can be recommended after the clinical evaluation by the doctor. At times, the spot can be observed for any changes by the doctor. Monitoring of the tongue peeling is normally done during the routine dental visits or even during visits using an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.

White coating on the tongue is normally due to colonizing of the bacteria, fungi with the entrapment of the dead cells. The coating can get aggravated in the mouth breathers, patients who have poor oral hygiene, nutritional deficiency and systemic diseases such as diabetes, fever etc. The whiteness could also be due to some physical or chemical injury but this is usually painful.

Generally the coating may be easily scrape off by brushing or even gentle tongue cleaning. Scrapable white coating might also be due to Candida infection and it is associated with burning, redness and white patches.

Eating of too much candies can lead to mild allergic reaction leading to the formation of dead cells layer. In case of already existing Candida infection, can may also aggravate it.

If you have no other symptoms doctors suggest that along with brushing the teeth gently clean also the tongue, do warm saline rinses & and then take plenty of fluids . White coating normally goes away in about 3 days if doesn’t disappear, then consult the dentist to rule out any other white lesion of oral mucosa.

Treatments to stop tongue from peeling off

The treatment of a tongue problem depends entirely on the underlying cause. For some of the tongue problems, no treatment is required whereas for other conditions, medications, surgery, or even radiation can be required.

If the tongue issue is a result of any underlying medical condition, then treatment of the underlying condition might be key to solving the problem.

During an examination with a physician or the dentist, information that is based on the symptoms and clinical appearance is normally collected. Based on the data, a diagnosis is then made. However, if there isn’t any unique symptom to differentiate the tongue problem, a differential diagnosis is then reviewed.

A differential diagnosis normally lists all the possible exact causes of the signs and symptoms. It is a very systematic process of weighing the probability of a disease versus that of any other diseases that can account for a tongue problem.

For instance, a white tongue lesion can have a differential diagnosis of leukoplakia, or even contact inflammation from the dentures. Each of these causes might be carefully investigated based on what is seen. Subsequently, a plan of treatment may be made.

For most of the tongue conditions that can be cancer, a special dye known as toluidine blue has been useful to assist in diagnosis. Toluidine blue staining is able to assist in early identification of precancerous or even a cancerous lesions.


A more definite diagnosis for tongue peeling needs a biopsy. A biopsy is the procedure where a sample of cells or even tissue is investigated under a microscope. Optimal treatment needs a precise diagnosis.

Some tongue problems are very much preventable by practicing of good oral hygiene and also eating of a healthy, nutritious diet while some of the tongue conditions may not be prevented at all but symptoms might be managed using prescribed treatment.

Other tongue problems are the byproduct of an underlying medical condition that required to be treated. Once addressed, then the tongue problem generally resolves.

Exercising the moderation or altogether stopping the habit of smoking and even drinking alcohol can decrease the risk of developing oral cancer. A vaccine for the HPV is equally being studied, and it may assist in guarding against the oral cancers, as well. Oral cancer screenings should take place during the routine dental visits.

Further references;

  2. The Science Behind Salt and Vinegar Chips:
  3. Oral Care:
  4. Geographic tongue:
  5. The Roof of My Mouth Is Sore After Eating:
  6. Sexually Transmitted Infections and Diseases:

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