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Q. What is the reason for white coating on the tongue?

Answered by
Dr. Rashi Verma
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 01, 2018 and last reviewed on: Oct 14, 2020

Hi doctor,

For the last few days, there is a white or yellow coating in the back of my tongue. It has been hurting. My taste buds in the back are swollen and bleed when I use the tongue scraper, which is on my toothbrush. What could this be?

Dr. Rashi Verma

Family Physician General Practitioner


Welcome to

I have read your query.

  • A coated or white tongue occurs when the surface is colonized by bacteria or fungi, and dead cells become trapped between the small nodules on the tongue.
  • From the image (attachment removed to protect patient identity), that you have sent me. It looks like you have a fungal infection, oral candidiasis. This usually occurs when the immune status of a person is compromised.
  • Is there any history of recent illness?
  • Are you taking antibiotics for a longer duration or using a steroid inhaler. If there is history of taking a steroid inhaler, please stop taking it till this is treated.
  • And whenever you use an inhaler, make sure to rinse your mouth after use.
  • For the oral candidiasis, I advise you to take the following.
  • Betadine (Povidone-iodine) gargle 2%. Rinse your mouth with this for at least 30 seconds each time for every 2 hours.
  • Candid (Clotrimazole) mouth paint. Apply it to the affected areas in the mouth after the gargles. Use it every 2 hours.
  • Tablet Fluconazole 200 mg once a day for 14 days.
  • The symptoms should decrease within 4-5 days. But, it will take time to completely subside.
  • If marked improvement is not seen please consult a nearby doctor who would evaluate you further for other causes of coated tongue.

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