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Smoker Gets Green & Hairy Tongue After Antibiotics

In a recent case study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a rather unnerving incident unfolded. A gentleman, who happened to be a smoker, had been prescribed antibiotics for a gum infection. To his astonishment, three weeks later, he noticed a peculiar transformation in the color of his tongue.⁠



Medical professionals swiftly diagnosed him with a condition known as “hairy tongue.” This unusual occurrence involves an abnormal buildup of skin cells on the surface of the tongue, resulting in the accumulation of debris and bacteria.⁠ These substances tend to gather around the papillae—the regions where our taste buds reside.⁠


Rare case of green hairy tongue is pure nightmare fuel | Ars Technica


When the upper surface of the tongue lacks sufficient stimulation or experiences minimal abrasion, a surplus of keratin—a protein also found in our hair—can accumulate. This excess keratin causes the papillae to elongate beyond their usual length, giving the tongue a distinctly unpleasant and “hairy” appearance and texture. 🤢⁠