05/14/2011 - Questions and Answers

Cracked tongue: Why is my tongue cracked?

By: Mark Castleden

Cracked tongue

Fissured or cracked tongue is a condition frequently seen in the general population. It's also known as ‘scrotal tongue’ or ‘lingua plicata’ and is characterized by one or more fissures or grooves on the tongue. Why is your tongue cracked? What are the causes of cracked tongue? Can a cracked tongue heal?
There are other questions you might want to ask if you're suffering from a cracked tongue. We will try to answer some of them.


I have had cracks in my tongue (Cracked tongue) for as long as I can remember. For the most part it didn't bother me. Now, for the past year, I've had lots of pain - it comes and goes. Sometimes I get a painful pimple or blister on the tip of my tongue. Also there are times when it feels like pins and needles in my tongue. My doctor tells me my tongue is swollen. Why is my tongue cracked? Do you know a cure for my cracked tongue?


What Causes Cracked Tongue...
There is no known reason for cracked tongue but by virtue of its anatomical position, the tongue is subject to irritants from multiple different sources. Anything coming into the mouth, such as hot or spicy foods, can burn or irritate the tongue, and thus become the source of recurring pain or swelling. The tongue can rub against uneven or broken teeth causing a recurrent, painful problem resulting in a cracked tongue.

During times of anxiety or tension, even during sleep, people can chew on their tongue leading to damage (cracks in tongue amongst other things). Additionally, allergic reactions to foods can cause the symptoms you describe. A problem called 'acid reflux' brings acid from the stomach into the throat and mouth, usually at night, with a resultant burning of the tongue. Tobacco in any form as well as alcohol are significant tongue irritants.
Problems may also develop in the tongue without an apparent outside cause.

The cracks you describe can be due to a 'fissured' or 'scrotal' tongue, which is a benign problem. A 'geographic' tongue is when the tongue sheds part of its top layer; this leaves red, tender areas on the tongue that look like a map. After healing, the tongue is back to normal, but the problem is often recurrent.

More seriously, cancers or pre-cancer growths can develop in or on the tongue causing pain and swelling. Therefore, if you have noticed fissures or cracks in your tongue and if you have not already done so, I highly recommend that you have your problem evaluated by an ear, nose and throat physician (an otorhinologist).

Are Cracked Tongue and Diabetes linked?
A cracked tongue may be an indication of a yeast infection, and diabetics are more prone to infections than the general population. Other medical conditions, such as anemia and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or local irritants, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol, and strong mouthwashes, may also cause cracked tongue. If you are concerned about a sore, cracked tongue or burning tongue, talk to your doctor.

A Treatment for Cracked Tongue?
Cracked tongue is a benign problem that does not require any specific treatment or cure. You can brush the top surface of your tongue to remove any remainder that may cause irritation.

Cracked tongue is a frequent condition that can cause mouth pain. You can learn more about what is causing a painful mouth?

If you are concerned about Cracked Tongue, you might want to read these articles:


Created on: 02/16/2003
Reviewed on: 05/14/2011

Your rating: None Average: 2.9 (47 votes)
Anonymous wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago


Anonymous wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Isn't this natural?

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Anonymous wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

hi there, my tongue looks awfull, and i am now 20 years old, it looked that way from the moment i looked at it in a mirror for the first time, when i was little, nobody in my family has one like that, they are all nice and pink with no cracks or maps... i wanted to ask you all what sort of diet you have, becouse i love sweets and chocolate, i do wash my teeth but i am begining to think that i have made my tongue looked that way becouse of what i put in my mouth, on the other hand, i didnt eat much sweets when i discovered it so i dont know, i doesnt usually feel sore, unless i eat something like a kiwi, or pineapple... strong flavours really, i eat a lot of spicy food, i put black pepper in everything and it doesnt make me feel anything really, but tropicAL fruits do affect me, i am going to my gp, see what he says, i'd like him to send me to a specialist, i am considering giving up crap (chocolat, sweets, sugary foods...) completly, and drinking from a straw might help as well, i will let you know what they say about it, i hope is just an estetic problem, and that you lot dont have any health problems becouse of it either, bye, take care

Anonymous wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

my granny had a tongue like that, my dad has it, i have it and like you for most parts it doesnt hurt unless i eat tangy fruits. it used to hurt more when i was younger and my mom took me to the gp who said it was a vitamin c deficieny.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

My husband suffered from cracked and burning tongue which came on suddenly and lasted for about 4 months. Because we were planning to fly, I bought a small tube of toothpaste to take on the flight. We used this same toothpaste for the whole week of our vacation.....NO MORE CRACKED TONGUE! Try changing your toothpaste. I had also developed cracks in the corners of my mouth...these too went away when we changed toothpaste. I hope this helps someone!

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Hmm. I developed cracked tongue after eating rough,spicy foods. But I have also been doubling up on my Advair (Dr. said to), so it sounds like I might need to get it checked just as a preventative measure, since inhalers can cause thrush.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

My tounge is cracked in the midlle,almost to the top,with time it is getting even worse.I feel pain from time to time,I tried lot of things to heal it but nothing helped and It is making me very nervous.Dont know what to do to make it better just for a bit.i think it is nit genetic couse no one in my family have it.somewhere i read it has something to do with internal organs health.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

hi i have a craket tongue and rednes and i canot eat anny food what is gouse litle spice ,like normal cabich soup are meat are limonade.what i shoul do to make it beter

Anonymous wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I have crackes in my tongue. Could it have been caused by a long dential procedure that during the proceduure my tongue got very dried out? What is a treatment for cracked tongue?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I want my fissured tongue to be cured. All I want to know is if there's still a possibility for it to look normal again. Pls reply @ [email protected]

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

First, there is a difference between a tongue so flaccid that it develops crumpled lines, and true cracks in the tongue. I'm not talking about flaccid tongues here.

So true cracks in the tongue almost always reflect dryness or exhaustion of the body fluids and or reserves of the body. So says Traditional Chinese Medicine, and also now my few years of professional experience. By body fluids I mean a term used in the medicine for the same stuff that is abundant in the young and is the basis for what makes skin so supple, and is so low in the elderly where skin is harsh and cracked. The base fluids are also used as coolant in the body in the form of hormones, etc... so when they're low you might get hot-flashes, extreme appetite, ...

If you start taking a poll, look at a lot of people's tongue, you'll start to notice patterns. The elderly and those on the tail end of chronic disease will have more cracks. This means their ability to lubricate their body, not just the skin, is hampered because lubricant is low! Usually its the lubrication & cooling of the lungs and stomach that is taxed first, before disease progresses. So you would have intolerance to hot foods, digestion issues, appetite irregularities, cough.

Its not that its always a very serious case like that. Another clue is the color of the tongue body and the existence of a normal slab of tongue fur! Generally the more red the tongue, as opposed to pale, the more progressed the problem. Progressed disease also shows with less to no tongue fur expect in cases of infection in which case you can get a very thick fur.

So these things do tend to run in families. And there are common foods, and especially certain herbs that help in replenishing.

It gets pretty complicated but I think the above was understandable, no? Maybe I should write an article about it, hmm......

In good health,
Afshin Mokhtari, L.Ac.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

And oh yeah, all those things about it could be a yeast infection, its a reflection of B vitamin deficiency, etc... are/could also be true. None of what Traditional Chinese Medicine says contradicts that, we just look at it from a different angle, and treat what we see from our angle. As a professional acupuncturist and herbalist, if I diagnose you correctly, and give you the right herbs, then as a "side-effect" to treating what I see, your B-vitamin deficiency will probably get addressed as well.

Also diagnosing looks different in Chinese and doesn't often correspond to what the Western Medical diagnosis sounds like. Its not a matter of which is right or wrong, proper diagnosis in each respective style of medicine will lead to both being right at the same time.

I wanted to point this out because most people are under the mistaken assumption that the two medicines are at odds. They actually complement each other nicely if you know how they fit together.

- Afshin Mokhtari, again.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

My cracked tongue is genetic. I was born with it. Several people in my family have it. My only problem is I can't eat spicy foods.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

You're right, a causes of a sore tongue can be a vitamin B2 deficiency and causes of a cracked tongue is a vitamin B3 deficiency. You might want to check i fyou have any gargles or mouthwashes that can damage your tounge and leave it cracked and sore.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

i have cracks on my tongue from past 13 years, i won't feel much pain(but little bit), i consulted somany doctors including one ayurvedic, but that donsn't helped, one ENT specialist adviced me that nature of the tougue is like that, no need to worry about. can any body please suggest on this

with regards
pradeep. p
[email protected]

Anonymous wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

It is possible that you have geographic tongue, a benign (or, harmless) condition that gives your tongue a map-like appearance. Geographic tongue occurs when parts of your tongue are missing the layer of small bumps called papillae. Missing papillae result in irregularly shaped smooth, red patches on parts of your tongue, which may look like bald spots or a rash.

Studies have suggested that approximately 3% of people have geographic tongue. it seems that women are affected more often than men, and people who have conditions such as asthma, allergies, or eczema are more likely to have geographic tongue. Although there is some evidence that geographic tongue runs in families, it is not known what causes this condition or how to treat it.

If you do, in fact, have geographic tongue, this condition doesn't cause any health problems and isn't associated with infection or cancer. Geographic tongue is usually painless but can sometimes cause tongue discomfort and increased sensitivity. Often, geographic tongue heals in one area and then moves to a different part of your tongue. For this reason, geographic tongue is also called by the technical name benign migratory glossitis.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can also causes cracks in tongue

Anonymous wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

An iron deficiency can also cause fissured tongue

Anonymous wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

I had cracks in tongue myself about a year ago it was because i was scraping my tongue too much with a tongue cleaner.

June Chen, MD wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

A sore, cracked tongue may be an indication of a yeast infection, and diabetics are more prone to infections than the general population. Other medical conditions, such as anemia and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or local irritants, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol, and strong mouthwashes, may also cause cracked tongue. If you are concerned about a sore, cracked tongue or burning tongue, talk to your doctor.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I also read somewhere that cracks in tongue (or cracked tongue as you call it) could be linked to diabetes.