A stroke patient was left perplexed after developing a black and hairy tongue. While the condition may scare you off, experts suggest that a tongue with a thick black hairy coat is harmless and is mostly caused by poor oral hygiene.

The bizarre condition can commonly be found in people above the age of 40 who often smoke, consume alcohol, drink too much coffee, or are on medications. 

“Black hairy tongue is a relatively common disease that classically manifests as a black and hairy appearing lesion on the dorsum of the tongue arising from abnormally hypertrophied and elongated filiform”, Dr. Sushma Yadav told The Hindustan Times. 

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“In this condition, the front 2/3rd of the tongue which has this conical projections, become enlarged in size and become brownish yellow and black. The tip of the sides of the tongue often don’t have this as much. The main problem is its unsightly experience and the patients might also complain a burning or tickling sensation on the tongue, very bad breath and nausea,” Dr. Sravya C Triperni, a dermatologist based in Bangalore told HT.   

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Symptoms of the condition include dryness, discoloration, bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth. 

 According to Dr. Triperni one can prevent the oral condition by making certain changes in daily habits. 

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“Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol. Always encourage very good oral hygiene and gentle tongue scraping with a soft toothbrush and a solution containing 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide will help apart from antiseptic mouthwash. If there is an associated fungal agent given then that also helps,” she said.

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Dr. Shraddha Despande, a surgeon at Wockhardt Hospital added, “Treatment includes gentle debridement in the clinic, maintenance of good oral hygiene, avoiding dry mouth by keeping tongue moist in bedridden patients, appropriate use of mouthwashes. Fungal infection or Carcinoma tongue can be a differential diagnosis, so a biopsy may be done in certain patients. Smoking and alcohol use are predisposing factors.”