Yellow tongue — a yellow discoloration of your tongue — is usually a temporary, harmless problem. Most often, yellow tongue is an early sign of a disorder known as black hairy tongue. Rarely, yellow tongue may be a sign of jaundice, a yellowing of the eyes and skin, which sometimes indicates liver or gallbladder problems.
Self-care is usually all that's needed to treat yellow tongue, unless it's related to another medical condition.
Medical treatment for yellow tongue usually isn't necessary. If tongue discoloration bothers you, try gently brushing your tongue with a solution that is 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 5 parts water once a day. Rinse your mouth with water afterward several times.
Quitting smoking and increasing fiber in your diet also may help by decreasing the bacteria in your mouth that cause yellow tongue and reducing the buildup of dead skin cells.
Schedule a doctor's visit if:
- You're concerned about persistent discoloration of your tongue
- Your skin or the whites of your eyes also appear yellow, as this may suggest jaundice
Mar. 18, 2015
- Goldstein BG, et al. Oral lesions. http://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 21, 2015.
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- Longo DL, et al. Jaundice. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 21, 2015.
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