Cracked or grooved tongue is also known as scrotal tongue. It is simply when small or pronounced grooves or fissures develops on the surface of your tongue. It is considered normal to have certain types of cracks on the tongue. This condition can be harmless to your health.
However, it is not recommended to diagnose this condition by yourself. Some cracks on the tongue can cause pain, soreness and sensitivity to certain foods and drinks. It is a good idea to visit your healthcare provider to evaluate your condition since it can result from infections and other underlying body conditions.
The seriousness of this condition depends with the depth of the grooves or cracks and other symptoms like inflammation, burning sensation, pain or swelling of the tongue. A grooved tongue is characterized by the following:
- Fissures, grooves or cracks appearing only on the surface of the tongue. There is no any other part of the mouth that is affected
- The tongue becomes sensitive to certain foods and drinks especially acidic, spicy or hot. It may cause inflammation or a burning sensation when eating such foods.
- The cracks varies in depth. They may be shallow or slightly deeper depending on the cause.
- The cracks may be accompanied with other symptoms like soreness, pain or a burning sensation.
- The color and texture of the tongue changes. It may appear red and rough in texture.
A scrotal tongue can affect any body despite of the gender or age. There are various risk factors increases your chances of getting fissured tongue. For instance, weakened body immune system in infants and elders puts them at a risk of developing oral conditions like thrush. Other body conditions like diabetes also plays a role in developing this tongue condition.
The cracks can appear during the childhood. However, they become more pronounced with age. As you get older, the grooves also becomes more pronounced.
What is the Cause of Cracked Tongue?
Although most of the causes of cracked tongue are unknown, the following conditions or diseases are linked to it:
- Geographic tongue
This is a harmless condition that affects the surface of the tongue. The surface of the tongue is normally covered with hair-like projections known as papillae. When having geographic tongue, it causes some patches on the tongue to lack the papillae.
This causes the areas that are missing papillae to be smooth with raised borders of the normal papillae. The patches gives the tongue a geographic appearance. This condition may appear alarming but it does not cause any serious risk to your health.
This condition may cause some pain or inflammations when eating spicy, salty or acidic foods. The exact cause of geographic tongue is unknown. This condition normally disappears on its own without treatment after a couple of month and may re-appear again if not treated.
- Biotin deficiency
Biotin belongs to B vitamin family that plays a very role in body metabolism and fat synthesis. Deficiencies of this vitamin can cause the tongue to crack. You may also develop other symptoms like dry skin, hair loss, acne, skin dermatitis, weak nails, fatigue, gray skin and paleness.
Although it is rare to suffer from biotin deficiencies since most of the food that we take contain this type of vitamins. There are various conditions that can lower the absorption of biotin to your body such as excessive consumption of alcohol, regular intake of antibiotics and consuming raw egg white.
- Oral thrush
Oral thrush is also known as candidiasis. It is a yeast infection that develops in the mouth as a result of fungus infection. Cracked tongue is among the symptoms of this mouth infection. A part from grooved tongue, this infections may also cause white bumps or lesion, pain and swelling of different parts of your mouth.
There are various factors that increases the risk of developing oral thrush. They include having weak immune system, suffering from diabetes, iron and B vitamin deficiencies, wearing dentures and often use of antibiotics. Infants and elderly people are prone to oral thrush due to weak immune system.
To combat this infection, take yogurt with active cultures to balance the level of fungus in your mouth. You can also visit your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. He or she may will give you antifungal medicines to take for a couple of days.
- Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome
This is a rare condition that its cause is yet to be known. It results to cracked tongue among other symptoms that includes paralysis of the face, lip and facial swelling. The swollen lips can also develops some cracks that are painful. Salivary glands are part of the mouth that can also be affected during the outbreak of this condition.
Patience that are suffering from this condition normally recovers within a few hours or days. However, a severe outbreak can lead to permanent lip and facial swelling if not treated.
- Tongue cancer
Tongue bump or lesions that are resistance to home remedy treatments and persists for a long time can be as a result of cancer. Tongue cancer is among head and neck type of cancer. The areas around the bumps may become sore, painful and cracked due to the growth.
It is important to visit your doctor when having a cracked tongue with some persistence swellings. Tongue cancer can easily be treated when discovered earlier. There are various treatments like chemotherapy, radio therapy and drug therapy that may be used to treat your condition.
- Black hairy tongue
Black and hairy tongue is commonly caused by tobacco smoking, poor oral hygiene and drinking coffee or tea mostly. Smoking and alcohol consumption can cause the papillae to become inflamed and enlarged. Food particles, bacteria, dead cells and other debris can get trapped on the overgrown papillae to cause cracked black and hairy tongue.
It is important to keep your tongue clean all the time by brushing your teeth and scraping the tongue after every meal and before sleeping to avoid oral problems. Avoid habits like smoking tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol that can cause damage to your tongue and other organs.
- Down syndrome
This is a genetic disorder that causes physical and mental problems in children before birth. Children who are suffering from this disorder have distinctive features like fissured tongue, flat face, short neck and arms. They may also suffer from intellectual disabilities that varies from one child to the other.
This results from a problem with the baby’s chromosomes. Having extra chromosome or other problems with chromosomes causes a Down syndrome.
Women are at a higher risk of delivering a baby with this condition when they get pregnant when old, having a history of this disorder in the family or having another baby with Down syndrome.
- Sjogren’s syndrome
This is also another disorder that causes fissured, grooved or cracked tongue. It develops when your body attacks its own moisture-producing glands. The common glands that are affected includes tear and salivary glands that are located in the mouth and other parts of your body.
When suffering from this disorder, you are likely to develop other symptoms like cracked and swollen tongue, fatigue, dry mouth, inflamed and itchy eyes, and joint pains. This syndrome is believed to be caused by environmental and genetic factors.
When you suspect having this disorder, it is recommended to visit your healthcare provider. Although it has no cure, the symptoms can be controlled by stimulating saliva and artificial tears.
It is possible to develop a cracked tongue when your body is dehydrated. Also, the grooves or fissures on the tongue becomes more pronounced when there is insufficient moisture in the mouth. Once you start feeling thirsty, it shows that your body is already dehydrated. Take small ounces or water frequently.
- Trauma or injuries to the tongue
Subjecting your tongue to constant injuries or trauma as a result of brushing too aggressively or friction from chipped tooth can cause cracks or fissures to develop on your tongue. Also a habit of grinding the teeth while a sleep can subject the tongue to a friction that causes cracks over a long time.
- Use of tobacco and alcohol
Chewing and smoking tobacco causes inflammation and enlargement of the papillae which can lead to various infections that causes cracks on the tongue. Consumption of alcohol also plays a major role in development of cracks. In first place, it causes dehydration that is another cause. It also irritates the taste receptors.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Cracked Tongue?
Different organs on your body like the tongue can tell you a lot about your nutrition and health. Deficiencies or poor absorption of certain vitamins in your body can cause your tongue to develop various symptoms like cracks, soreness, and loss of papillae, ulcers or a burning sensation.
Deficiencies of B vitamin is the main cause of various tongue problems. This vitamin plays a very big role in your body that includes metabolism and absorption of other nutrient. Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to other symptoms like fatigue and painful muscles. Vitamin deficiencies that lead to cracks in tongue includes:
Riboflavin is B2 vitamin, its deficiency is the major cause of cracked or fissured tongue. It plays a very big role in energy production, skin and vision health and also helps the body to use other vitamins like B6, folate, iron and niacin.
Deficiencies of riboflavin is rare since most of the foods we take contain this type of vitamins. However, deficiency symptoms may be noted in people who consume excessive amount of alcohol or those that don’t consume milk or its products.
The deficiency symptoms includes cracked, redness, inflamed, painful or smooth tongue. Other parts of the body may also experience skin rash and eye problems. However, it is recommended to take foods like milk, milk products, cereals, green vegetables, meat, liver, kidney or egg white that are rich in riboflavin.
Biotin or B7 vitamin also plays very important roles in your body. It helps in energy metabolism, glucose synthesis, fat synthesis and amino acid metabolism. This vitamin are found in most of the foods that we eat like cauliflower, peanuts, liver, chicken meat, mushrooms and egg yolks.
Excessive consumption of alcohol and over-consumption of egg white can lead to deficiencies of biotin in your body. Therefore you are likely to experience symptoms like cracked tongue, pale or gray skin, hair loss, dry skin or dermatitis and muscle pain among others.
This is also another vitamin that its deficiency may cause tongue problems like cracks and soreness. Its deficiency is mostly caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, poor nutrition and long term use of antibiotics
Rich sources of folate includes leafy vegetables, seeds, liver, chicken meat, legumes, eggs, citrus fruits and cereals. It is recommended for adults to take at least 400micrograms a day of folic acid, pregnant and breast feeding mothers may need more than that.
Is a Cracked Tongue Painful?
Cracks on the tongue can be accompanied with other symptoms like pain, inflammation, itchiness or a burning sensation. The pain level varies depending with the cause, you may experience some pain especially when taking spicy, acidic, salty or hot foods and beverages.
However, you can easily control the pain using home remedies and treatment. However, don’t hesitate to visit your healthcare provider in case the pain persists after tying the following remedies.
- Make some changes to your lifestyle to prevent irritation. This includes avoiding intake of spicy, salty and acid foods and beverages.
- Avoid chewing or smoking tobacco and minimize alcohol consumption during the healing process of your fissured tongue.
- Alleviate the pain by placing ice chips on the surface of the tongue. Let it melt on its own without sucking and don’t allow it to overstay on the tongue. This can be done twice a day.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce the pain. Avoid blood thinning pain relievers like aspirin.
When the cracks on the tongue are severe and painful, it is also a good idea to avoid using your routine toothpaste. You can opt for other alternatives like baking soda for oral care in the meantime as you wait for the cracks to heal.
How is Geographic Tongue different from Cracked Tongue
The surface of your tongue is covered by numerous hair-like projection referred to as papillae. However, a geographic tongue is a harmless condition that causes some patches of missing papillae on the tongue. The patches with missing papillae appears to be red and smooth with raised borders.
The patches will therefore give your tongue a map-like appearance. After some time the patches usually heal and migrate to another part of the tongue. This is why this condition is also referred to as migratory glossitis. A part from cracked tongue, it is characterized by various symptoms like:
- Sensitivity of the tongue to certain foods and beverages. You may feel pain, inflammation or a burning sensation when taking salty, spicy or acidic foods.
- Smooth, red and irregular shaped patches that keeps on migrating from one location to the other.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown but it is believed to result from chemicals found in alcohol or tobacco smoke, psoriasis, taking too hot foods and drinks, allergic reactions, taking spicy, salty and acidic foods or as a result of other infections of the tongue. More research is needed to find out the connection.
Geographic tongue can affect anybody but you are at a higher risk if your other family members have a history of this condition. It can be inherited from your family members. Other conditions like fissured tongue also predisposing factors to geographic tongue.
How to Diagnose a Cracked Tongue
Cracked or grooved tongue diagnosis involves making an appointment with your healthcare provider to determine the cause of your condition. The doctor will examine or look at your tongue carefully to determine if there is any other symptom that is accompanied with cracks.
He or she will also ask several questions concerning your condition. For instance, the doctor may need to know for how long you have experienced cracks on the tongue, if you have taken any medication or not any other symptoms you may be feeling like pain.
The doctor may also perform other tests that involves blood and biopsy of the lesions or bumps on your tongue to determine if the cracks are caused by tongue cancer or other underlying conditions like Melkersson-Rosenthal.
He or she will therefore prepare your medical report that shows the cause of your condition and some of the recommendations. Treatment will be determined by the cause, therefore you may be given some prescription medicines to use for a couple of days.
How to Cure a Cracked Tongue
Once you have identified the cause of your cracking tongue, it is easier to find a remedy a treatment to your condition. Some of the fissures or grooves normally disappears without any cure white others requires diagnosis and treatment. There are various treatments and remedies that you can use to get rid of grooves in tongue. They include:
- Improve your dental hygiene.
Bacteria, dead cells, food particles and other micro-organisms can hide in the grooves on your tongue and hence causing an infection that may deepen the cracks. It is therefore important to perform a proper dental cleaning.
Use a soft-bristle brush or a scraper to clean the tongue after every meal and before going to bed. You can also use a high quality mouthwash to clean your mouth. It helps to kill bacteria and other pathogenic micro-organisms that causes mouth infections.
- Take vitamin supplements
If you have confirmed from the doctor that your tongue fissures are as a result of biotin deficiency, you can take vitamin supplements. Alternatively, you can increase the intake of foods that are rich in biotin like eggs, chicken meat, cauliflower, and mushroom among other foods.
It is also importance to avoid habits that prevents absorption of biotin into your body. Some of the habits includes eating raw egg white, excessive consumption of alcohol and long term use of antibiotic drugs.
- Take more water to prevent dehydration
Keeping your body hydrated is a simple remedy on how to fix a cracked tongue fast. As you read earlier, dehydration is among the causes of fissures on tongue. Always keep a bottle of water at hand. Take little water at regular intervals to keep your tongue and mouth moisturized.
- Reduce the irritation
Cracked or fissured tongue can be sensitive to some food and additives. It is therefore important to refrain from spicy, acidic and salty foods until the cracks are healed. Irritation may delay the healing process which can subject the tongue to infections.
Others things that can causes irritation like chewing or smoking tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol should also be avoided. Consult your dentist on the measures you can take to avoid friction from chipped tooth or dentures.
- Place ice chips on the tongue to reduce pain
To reduce pain, irritations and other discomforts, place some ice chips on the tongue and allow it to melt on its own without sucking. This can be done 2-3 times a day until the pain is relieved. Avoid overstaying the ice on the tongue is it may cause burning.
- Apply some glycerin
Glycerin has a soothing effects that helps to reduce the discomforts caused by a grooved tongue. It also helps to moisturize the tongue, lips and mouth lining to prevent further cracking. You can use this remedy twice a day until your tongue heals.
- Go for medical treatment
Some of the cracks can result from different infections like oral thrush that requires a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment. After the doctor will have performed the tests, you may be given some antifungal medicines to use for several days.