Peeling Tongue-Causes, How to stop & Treatment

The human tongue comprises a small group of muscles that are attached to the mouth’s floor. The upper part of the tongue is covered by small bumps that are known as papillae, with a majority of the tasting buds being found in the bumps. Apart from using it to chew, taste, and swallow food, the tongue is also used in forming words before one can speak.

A healthy tongue is one that is pink in color, moist and is covered by a slightly thin coat on its surface. But as is common with other parts of the body, this area is also prone to various problems, e.g., the peeling tongue problem.

Causes-Why is my tongue peeling off?

A peeling tongue is common after consuming vinegar chips, sour candy, or foods that are very salty. The problem is also common among people who have a geographic tongue. There are instances where the problem is brought about by fungal infections, STDs, and pregnancy.

Why is my tongue peeling?
skin peeling off tongue

Ever wondered what could be causing your tongue to peel off? The tearing off of your tongue could be an indication that there is something wrong in your mouth, e.g., the presence of an irritant. It could be caused by certain foods, a problematic pregnancy, an infection, or an STD.

Peeling due to an STD

STDs tend to be infectious and are normally passed from person to person. All sexual acts can lead to a person being infected. It is, for this reason, that it is recommended that one gets tested before they can engage in any sexual activity.

It is also crucial to always practice safe sex. The consequences and range of symptoms associated with STDs and STIs are quite big. Some symptoms are benign, while others could be severe and may be in the form of chronic pain or a burning feeling when passing urine.

The consequences, on the other hand, maybe as minor as making a small visit to your physician or could be as serious as leading to infertility, chronic illnesses, or a shortened lifespan. It is crucial that you keep up with the latest STD tests, both for yourself and for the safety of your partner.

With proper diagnosis, you can know whether your peeling tongue has been caused by any of the following STDs.

  • HIV and AIDs
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital Herpes

Apart from the signs that are manifested orally, you also need to be on the lookout for other symptoms that are associated with STIs, which include:

  • Virginal itching
  • Small blisters around your genital area
  • Colored discharge from the penis
  • Light colored stools or dark urine
  • Pain during intercourse
  • A sore throat for people who have been engaging in oral sex

Geographic Tongue

This is a harmless condition known to affect the tongues surface. People with this condition will find their tongues will be covered in short papillae, spotting white projections. The patches appearing on the tongue surface will normally be smooth and will be in the form of small reddish islands that have numerous raised borders.

The lesions will give the tongue an appearance similar to that of a map, hence the term geographic tongue. On appearance, the lesions will heal in one location before moving on to another part of the tongue. The condition is also referred to as benign migratory glossitis.

Even though this condition can be quite alarming on manifestation, you should not be worried as it does not lead to serious health complications. It may, however, lead to increased sensitivity and some slight discomfort. It is, however, not related to cancer or any infection.

Its symptoms include:

  • Pain, discomfort or a burning sensation in some sections. This mostly occurs when you consume acidic, spicy, or extremely salty foods.
  • Frequent changes in the shape, size, and location of the patch
  • The appearance of irregularly shaped lesions on the lower or upper part of the tongue

People with a geographic tongue will in many cases not exhibit additional symptoms.

Tongue discoloration and peeling

A perfect tongue is one that is pale red or pink in color. Bright red or white shades on the tongue are an indication that one is suffering from potential health-related problems. Tongue discoloration and peeling problems include:

  1. Redder than Normal peeling

This is an indication that the body has excessive acidity, bacterial infection, inflammation, or dehydration. It is a condition that could also be caused by poor eating habits or stimulants. The severity can be seen in the tongue color.

  1. White or pale peeling

This kind of peeling often indicates a problem with your circulation system, e.g., anemia adrenal difficulties, or a reduction in the amount of oxygen available in your blood. In many instances, it is accompanied by a general feeling of fatigue in the body.

There are instances where it has been seen as a warning indication that one may have a chronic problem with their circulatory or digestive system.

  1. Peeling and a purple tongue

Peeling and a purple tongue is used to indicate that one has blood stasis. This is a condition where there is pooling or slowing of blood in the body. It could be an indication that you have a kidney or cardiac condition.

  1. Red-tipped tongue where the rest of the tongue is pink in color

It could be an indication of cardiac or thyroid problems. When the tongue sides are redder than the other parts, it means that one has gallbladder or liver related problems. In a situation where only the center is red, this is indicative of stomach related problems.

Intestinal distress manifests in the form of canker sores on the sides, e.g., celiac disease. It can also be seen when you breathe through the mouth, and your tongue ends up becoming dry, which then causes these sores to start developing.


As seen above, the causes of your peeling tongue can range from harmless to serious causes. There are people who can be born with a tongue related condition, which in such cases ends up being harmless. But there are conditions such as tongue cancer, which have more serious causes like alcohol consumption and smoking.

There are instances where the tongue problem could be related to a serious medical condition. Common problems associated with the tongue include:

  • Movement difficulties
  • Discoloration
  • Taste concerns
  • Surface abnormalities

According to Dr. Macioca, tongue diagnosis should always be performed in a systematic manner. When performing the diagnosis, the emphasis should be on its color, shape, and coating. Vitality and shaping should also be considered.

In general, the diagnosis will involve establishing which areas are stagnated and require nourishment, areas that have been receiving too little or too much circulation, and ways that can be used to balance the body so that everything remains in perfect harmony.

How to stop it

From the discussion above, you can note that a peeling tongue is a common occurrence, and is in many cases, not life-threatening. It is possible to manage mild cases at home. You should:

  1. Rinse your tongue using saline water

You can use salt to stop the tongue from peeling. For this, you should combine a single teaspoon of table salt with one glass of water. Use the resulting solution to gargle for between 2 and 5 minutes. Try and repeat this procedure at least three times a day.

The salt is able to remove the dead cells and debris that are on your tongue, and which may be the main reason why your tongue has started to peel.

  1. Change your dietary options

Peeling may be caused by a vitamin deficiency. Where this is the case, the solution will be to boost your food intake. If your immune system has been compromised, consider adding some vitamin supplements to your diet. This will help in boosting the immune system.

  1. Try taking some probiotics

Probiotics are dietary supplements or dairy foods containing live bacteria. They can replace the beneficial bacteria found in your gastrointestinal tract and this will help do away with the peeling occurring on your tongue.

  1. Ensure the body is properly hydrated

Ensuring the body is properly hydrated during the dry days is crucial in ensuring that your tongue will stop peeling. Be sure to take plenty of fluids. This will help ensure that your body remains hydrated and active all through.

  1. Aloe Vera

You can manage minor tongue peeling by applying Aloe Vera on it. Its gel is antiseptic and comes with anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties vital in ensuring that your body remains free from bacterial and viral infections.

aloe-vera peeling tongue remedy
Aloe Vera

Treatment Options

Treatment normally depends on the causative factors. In some cases, no treatment is required while in other cases, you may need to take medications, e.g., antibiotics, undergo radiation or surgery.

When the peeling has been caused by an underlying medical condition, then the key to solving this problem will lie in solving the condition causing this peeling of the tongue.

Your physician will collect all the necessary information when performing the examination. The data collected during the diagnosis will be used to determine what is causing the problem.

The systematic diagnosis will list all the possible causes and symptoms that have manifested on the tongue’s surface before a treatment plan can be recommended.


  • Dr. Giovanni’s Blog for Tongue Diagnosis information:
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