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A patient presented to the doctor with an embarrassing symptom: a hair-covered tongue that had taken on a green color.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, we discover the photo of a green tongue covered with small hairs. This is not a cliche of the Grinch, but of an American patient living in Ohio, as Slate points out. He suffered from a condition known by scientific literature since 1557: the “hairy tongue syndrome“. But where does it come from?

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A priori, it would be a kind of mycosis, due to a disturbance of the oral flora. Tongue cells renew themselves regularly. But in this case, this renewal is disturbed, and waste accumulates on the taste buds. The latter, which are usually 1 millimeter, then increase. Their size is multiplied by 18! That’s what gives the impression of hair.

The mystery of color

The researchers note that the patients are often men with a poor lifestyle: heavy consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee… The recent intake of antibiotics is also linked to the development of this disorder, which keeps mysteries for the science, which for example does not really know why sometimes the color changes from red to green, or black. The hypothesis is that this modification is linked to the patient’s diet. Either way, the disorder is mild and taking antifungals is enough to calm patients down.

Source: Slate, New England Journal of Medicine

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