Benign Migratory Stomatitis

Benign migratory stomatitis, also known as geographic tongue or erythema migrans, is a relatively common inflammatory condition of the tongue that affects between 1% and 3% of the population. It is characterized by irregularly shaped, red, and white patches on the surface of the tongue that move around and change location over time, giving the condition its “migratory” name.

Despite its unusual appearance, benign migratory stomatitis is not a serious medical condition and usually causes only mild discomfort, such as burning or tingling sensations, and occasional sensitivity to certain foods or drinks. However, in rare cases, the condition may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes or fever, which may indicate an underlying health issue.


Although the exact cause of BMS is not known, several factors can contribute to its development. The main causes of benign migratory stomatitis are as follows:

  1. Trauma or injury to the oral tissues: Injury or trauma to the oral tissues can trigger BMS. Common triggers include ill-fitting dentures, sharp edges of teeth, accidental bites, and dental procedures.
  2. Hormonal changes: BMS is more common in women, especially during menopause. Hormonal changes, such as a decrease in estrogen levels, can contribute to the development of BMS.
  3. Nutritional deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies, particularly in vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12, can cause BMS. Deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to oral inflammation and mouth sores.
  4. Allergies: Some individuals may develop BMS due to allergies to certain foods or oral care products, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, or gum.
  5. Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can weaken the immune system and trigger BMS. Emotional stress can also cause physical changes in the body that may lead to oral inflammation.
  6. Autoimmune disorders: BMS is associated with some autoimmune disorders such as lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and celiac disease. These disorders can cause oral inflammation and mouth sores.

In conclusion, although the exact cause of BMS is not known, several factors can contribute to its development. Trauma or injury to the oral tissues, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, stress and anxiety, and autoimmune disorders are the main causes of benign migratory stomatitis. If you are experiencing recurring mouth sores, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying health conditions.


Benign migratory stomatitis, also known as geographic tongue, is a harmless condition that affects the tongue. The main symptoms of this condition include:

  1. Irregularly shaped, reddish patches or sores on the surface of the tongue. These patches are called “lesions” and can be of various sizes.
  2. The lesions have a white or yellowish border, which makes them look like a map. This is why it is called geographic tongue.
  3. The patches are not painful, but they can cause a burning or stinging sensation in some people.
  4. The tongue may appear swollen, and there may be a general feeling of discomfort.
  5. There may be a metallic taste in the mouth or a dry feeling.
  6. The condition can be accompanied by bad breath.
  7. In some cases, the patches may appear on the roof of the mouth or the inside of the cheeks.

It is important to note that benign migratory stomatitis is not a serious condition, and it does not require any treatment. However, if you are experiencing any discomfort or pain, it is best to see a dentist or doctor who can provide appropriate treatment.


The diagnosis of BMS is usually based on clinical findings, and there is no specific test to confirm the condition. However, some diagnostic tests may be helpful in ruling out other potential causes of similar symptoms.

  1. Biopsy: A tissue sample may be taken from the affected area of the tongue for histological examination to rule out other possible oral conditions such as oral cancer or lichen planus. The biopsy may also help to confirm the diagnosis of BMS.
  2. Culture and sensitivity test: A swab may be taken from the tongue to detect the presence of any bacteria or fungi that may be causing the symptoms. This test may also help to determine the appropriate treatment, such as antibiotics or antifungal medication.
  3. Blood tests: Blood tests may be ordered to rule out systemic conditions such as anemia or vitamin deficiencies that may cause similar symptoms.
  4. Allergy testing: If the patient has a history of allergies, an allergy test may be conducted to determine if an allergic reaction is causing the symptoms.
  5. Imaging tests: In rare cases, imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI may be ordered to rule out underlying conditions such as tumors or cysts.

In summary, while there is no specific diagnostic test for BMS, a combination of clinical examination, biopsy, culture and sensitivity testing, blood tests, allergy testing, and imaging tests may be useful in ruling out other potential causes of similar symptoms. A thorough medical and dental history is also essential in making a proper diagnosis.


The treatment of BMS is primarily aimed at relieving the symptoms, as there is no cure for the condition. The following are the main treatment options for BMS:

  1. Topical Corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroids are the most commonly used treatment for BMS. They are applied directly to the affected areas of the tongue and help reduce inflammation and pain. Commonly prescribed corticosteroids include triamcinolone acetonide, fluocinonide, and clobetasol propionate.
  2. Antihistamines: Antihistamines are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and itching associated with BMS. They can be taken orally or applied topically to the tongue.
  3. Topical Anesthetics: Topical anesthetics like benzocaine, lidocaine, and tetracaine can be used to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with BMS.
  4. Nutritional Supplements: Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to BMS, and taking supplements like vitamin B, zinc, and iron can help alleviate symptoms.
  5. Avoiding Triggers: Certain foods, such as spicy or acidic foods, and habits like smoking, can trigger BMS. Avoiding these triggers can help reduce symptoms.

In addition to the above treatment options, maintaining good oral hygiene is essential in managing BMS. This includes brushing the tongue gently with a soft-bristled brush and using mouthwash to kill bacteria and soothe irritation. It is also important to avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes, as they can cause further irritation.

Overall, the treatment of BMS is focused on relieving symptoms, and in most cases, the condition resolves on its own over time. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen.