Yellow tongue usually occurs as a result of harmless changes to the tiny projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. Most commonly this occurs when your papillae become enlarged and bacteria in your mouth produce colored pigments.
Rarely, yellow tongue may be a sign of jaundice, a yellowing of your eyes and skin that may indicate liver or gallbladder problems.
Causes of a yellow tongue include:
- Black, hairy tongue
- Geographic tongue
Mar. 13, 2012
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Mirowski GW, et al. Biology and pathology of the oral cavity. In Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2979081. Accessed Nov. 21, 2011.
- Disorders of the mouth. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5199834. Accessed Nov. 21, 2011.
- Pratt DS, et al. Jaundice. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9113243. Accessed Nov. 21, 2011.