Doctors have reported a rare case of a man with a "black hairy tongue".
A man in his 50s showed up to the dermatology department after his carers became concerned about the appearance of his tongue. Doctors, writing in the journal JAMA Dermatology, described the tongue as having "a thick black coating" that was "yellowish" at the center and back of his tongue. Additionally, his tongue showed "thin, elongated, black fibers that gave the appearance of a hairy surface".
He was quickly diagnosed with the creatively named Black Hairy Tongue syndrome. Three months prior, the man had suffered a stroke that had left him with weakness in the left side of his body. Since then, he had eaten a diet of puréed food and liquids, the likely cause of his ailment.
The harmless and fairly common condition's appearance is caused by a buildup of dead skin cells on the tongue. This causes papillae that coat the tongue, and contain tastebuds, to lengthen. In turn, the papillae trap other substances, such as food, bacteria, and yeast. In this man's case, the yellow tint to parts of his tongue was likely from his food.
The condition can be caused by a rare side effect of antibiotics, poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, smoking, or eating a diet of soft food — as this man was — that doesn't rub off the dead skin on your tongue. Fortunately, it is simply treated by removing the cause of the condition and good oral hygiene. The man's recovery was quite simple.
"The patient and caregivers were given advice regarding proper cleansing measures, and the discoloration resolved after 20 days," the doctors concluded.