BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuLeukoplakiaHairy leukoplakia; Smoker's keratosisLeukoplakia are patches on the tongue, in the mouth, or on the inside of the cheek. Causes Leukoplakia affects the mucous membranes of the mouth. The exact cause is not known. It may be due to irritation such as: Rough teeth Rough places on dentures, fillings, and crowns Smoking or other tobacco use (smoker's keratosis), especially pipes Holding chewing tobacco or snuff in the mouth for a long period of time Drinking a lot of alcohol The disorder is more common in older adults.A type of leukoplakia of the mouth, called oral hairy leukoplakia, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is seen mostly in people with HIV/AIDS. It may be one of the first signs of HIV infection. Oral hairy leukoplakia can also appear in other people whose immune system is not working well, such as after a bone marrow transplant.HIV/AIDSHuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Bone marrow transplantA bone marrow transplant is a procedure to replace damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. Bone marrow is the soft, fat...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Symptoms Patches in the mouth usually develop on the tongue (sides of the tongue with oral hairy leukoplakia) and on the insides of the cheeks.Leukoplakia patches are:Most often white or gray Uneven in shape Fuzzy (oral hairy leukoplakia) Slightly raised, with a hard surface Unable to be scraped off Painful when the mouth patches come into contact with acidic or spicy food Exams and Tests A biopsy of the lesion confirms the diagnosis. Examination of the biopsy may find changes that indicate oral cancer.BiopsyA biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Oral cancerOral cancer is cancer that starts in the mouth.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment The goal of treatment is to get rid of the leukoplakia patch. Removing the source of irritation may cause the patch to disappear.Treat dental causes such as rough teeth, irregular denture surface, or fillings as soon as possible. Stop smoking or using other tobacco products. Do not drink alcohol. If removing the source of the irritation does not work, your health care provider may suggest applying medicine to the patch or using surgery to remove it.For oral hairy leukoplakia, taking antiviral medicine usually causes the patch to disappear. Your provider may also suggest applying medicine to the patch. Outlook (Prognosis) Leukoplakia is usually harmless. Patches in the mouth often clear up in a few weeks or months after the source of irritation is removed.In some cases, the patches may be an early sign of cancer. When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider for an appointment if you have any patches that look like leukoplakia or hairy leukoplakia. Prevention Stop smoking and do not use other tobacco products. Do not drink alcohol, or reduce the number of drinks you have that contain alcohol. Have rough teeth treated and dental appliances repaired right away.Open ReferencesReferencesDinulos JGH. Premalignant and malignant nonmelanoma skin tumors. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 21.James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Disorders of the mucous membranes. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 34.Sciubba JJ. Oral mucosal lesions. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 87.AllVideoImagesTogRelated Information Chronic(Special Topic)Mouth ulcers(Condition) Review Date: 9/1/2021 Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. 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