27 C
Friday, August 7, 2020

Black Tongue: Causes and Treatment

- Advertisement -

Although a scary thing to see, having a black tongue is not a sign of anything life-threatening. Even when you feel what you have on your tongue feels hairy, it helps not to panic, as these aren’t hair.

- Advertisement -

These conditions are referred to as “black, hairy tongue,” and they are temporary.


The tongue is layered with hundreds of small bumps known as papillae. Naturally, we don’t notice these bumps, but when dead skin cells gather on the tip, they start to appear longer.

These extended papillae can get stained by bacteria and other things easily, giving your tongue it’s furry and black appearance. Medical experts have not been able to explain why the tongue sometimes stop shedding dead skin cells; nonetheless, it may be linked with the following:

  • Low production of saliva: The production of saliva helps us to ingest dead skin cells. This becomes impossible when the production of saliva becomes very minimal, causing dead skin cells to stay in the tongue.
  • Poor oral hygiene: When the tongue is not teeth and tongue aren’t cleaned regularly, it’s highly likely that dead skin cells would gather on the tongue.
  • Side effects of medication: Specific medications have side effects that include dry mouth. This can cause the saliva to dry up, hence accumulating dead skin cells on the tongue.
  • Liquid diet: Dead skin cells are scraped off our tongue when we eat solid foods. This becomes impossible when a person maintains a liquid diet.

Why is it black?

Bacteria and other products can get trapped when there is a buildup of dead skin cells on the tongue. This can cause the tongue to look black or dark brown.

Other factors may include:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics eliminates both good and bad bacteria in the body. When this happens, it can disrupt the balance of bacteria present in the mouth, which then allows certain bacteria and yeast to thrive.
  • Tea or coffee: Drinking too much tea and coffee can easily stain elongated papillae.
  • Tobacco: Chewing or smoking tobacco is one of the leading causes of the black tongue. Tobacco can easily stain the extended papillae on the tongue.
  • Bismuth sub salicylate: This is quite a common ingredient in some gastrointestinal meds that are gotten over the counter. It can react with sulfur residue in the mouth, causing black stain in the tongue.
  • Mouthwash: Some mouthwashes containing oxidizing agents like peroxide can lead to an imbalance in the bacteria present in the mouth.


You might want to fix an appointment with your doctor if you suspect the black tongue is a reaction to a medication you’ve been taken or if you are on a liquid diet.

Adjusting your prescriptions would be the next best option to help reduce the stain on your tongue.

Your doctor might also prescribe an antibacterial or antifungal medication to help manage bacterial or yeast infection in your mouth. The administrating of retinoid medication can also be used to maximize cell turnover on the tongue.

Generally, no treatment is required for a black tongue. In most cases, brushing regularly can help to eliminate traces of dead skin cells on the tongue. The stains should clear off within a few days.

- Advertisement -

For aggressive papillae, your medical doctor can scrape them off with the use of electrodesiccation or carbon dioxide laser burning. This is done to cut and seal the papillae simultaneously.

Nevertheless, the condition can be taken care of using any of the following;

  • Brushing regularly: Regularly brushing the tongue twice a day can help to rid off bacteria and dead skin cells.
  • Brush after eating: Brushing your tongue and teeth after every meal can help to stop bacteria and food debris from getting stuck in the papillae.
  • Use a tongue scraper: the use of a tongue scraper after brushing will help to keep dead skin cells from staining your papillae. A tongue scraper can easily be ordered online.
  • Brush after drinking: Brushing after having alcohol, tea, and coffee should help to prevent stains.
  • Flossing before bedtime: Flossing at least once every day can stop plaques and debris from forming in the mouth.
  • Quit using tobacco products: Stopping the uses of tobacco may be the best thing you can do for your tongue. If you’re finding it hard to quit, ensure to brush your tongue and teeth every time you smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water would help to hydrate your mouth, which would allow you to swallow dead skin cells that have settled on the tongue.
  • Schedule a cleaning: Your dentist should do an excellent job of helping you maintain good oral health.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: A complete diet that consists of lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should help to maintain a healthy bacteria balance in the mouth.


Having a black tongue is both temporary and harmless. Quick improvement should be noted after a few lifestyle changes. You should fix an appointment with your doctor if you notice black stains after a week or two.

Have you ever experienced a black tongue before? How did you handle the condition? Are there tips or suggestions you’d like to share? Please use the comments section below.

- Advertisement -

Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.

Trending Now

What is a California Medical Cannabis Collective?

What is a cannabis collective? How does it differ from a medical marijuana dispensary? Learn the difference between the two in both legal terms...
- Advertisement -

Skin Rashes: Causes, Symptoms and Effective Home Remedies

Skin rashes are common skin problems experienced by millions of people worldwide; it is characterized by a visible change in the color...

How to Increase Sodium Levels in Your Blood?

Levels of sodium in the blood is often a misunderstood topic and it is extremely necessary that we as individuals understand the meaning and...

Bumps and Changes in the Areola – What’s Normal and What’s Not

The areola is the circle of darker pigmented skin on the breast. The nipple is the pointed (protruding) center of the areola.Nipples are sensitive...

Atis Fruit: 10 Health Benefits of Eating Sugar Apple

Sugar apple (Atis fruit), is the Annona squamosa fruit belonging to the natives of West Indies and to the tropical Americas like Peru, Mexico,...

Spider Bites: Symptoms, Treatment & Identification

Spider bites in the United States are often annoying but they are rarely fatal. If a person gets bitten by a black...

Natural Vagina Wash and How to Take Care of Your Vagina

The vagina is a muscular tube located inside a woman’s body, it runs from the opening of the womb (called cervix) to the opening...

Women Celebrating #nobraday 2019 on Social Media (Pics)

Today is #nobraday so our team will scout social media and bring you tweets and posts across social media platforms on how women and...

Top Ways to Easily Strengthen Your Lower Body

Every one of us probably made a mistake by just focusing on the upper body while working out at the gym or...



Nurture yourself with health tips, wellness advice, and more.

- Advertisement -

Related Posts

Healthcare Tips to Be Kept in Mind While on a Safari in Africa

So you are planning to go on an African Safari? You have made your reservation with a reputed travel company and ready to go...

4 Ways a Car Accident can Affect you Psychologically and How to Recover

Being involved in a wreck can cause you a great deal of emotional, physical and financial anguish. The key to getting past this challenging...

Health Tips for Working Professionals

Working professionals have to meet tight deadlines, targets and deal with pressure at every instant of time. This takes toll not only on their...

Six Reasons to Choose Inpatient Rehab

Why-inpatient-treatment is something that addicts occasionally ask when deciding to go to rehab. While you might think that an outpatient program is best for...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.