After a car crash that caused her severe leg injuries, a woman from the US got an infection tackled by doctors with minocycline and other drugs, as well. Just a weeks after the intervention, the woman noticed her tongue turned black and hairy, in appearance. Worried about her health status, the women went to the hospital and found out she got “black hairy tongue” (lingua villosa nigra).
Yasir Hamad and David Warren, the woman’s doctors, came out with a case study on this situation they released in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“The hairy black tongue is a benign condition. The condition can be associated with multiple factors, including poor oral hygiene, the use of tobacco or irritating mouthwashes, and antibiotic agents. The black hairy tongue is usually reversible and has no long-term sequelae as long as the precipitating agent is discontinued, and the patient practices good oral hygiene,” the doctors’ report reads.
A woman got “black hairy tongue” after she was treated for an infection
Even though it’s a very bizarre medical condition, the so-called black hairy tongue is quite common across the world. In the US alone, according to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, 13 percent of the population suffered from at least one variety of this illness during their lifetime.
Usually, the disease manifest by 1-mm conical-shaped bumps that appear on the surface of the tongue. These formations are medically known as filiform papillae. When these structures are not cured or at least “stimulated” by brushing, they build up a protein known as keratin which, in time, turns those bumps into thick hair follicles.
While it’s a gross condition, it’s harmless. However, “hairy black tongue” causes bad breath, so it’s not a brilliant idea to leave it untreated for a long time. Luckily black hairy tongue is both preventable and resolvable with improved oral hygiene.