If you notice black spots on your tongue then this can be an alarming site and can prompt you to wonder what their cause is. Don’t worry though, it’s not the mark of Davy Jones, but could be caused by one of many, mostly harmless, causes. Here we’ll look at some of the causes of black spots on your tongue, what to do about it and whether it is a cause for alarm.


Hyper-pigmentation occurs when there is too much pigment (which gives our skin, hair and eyes their colour) in a certain area. This can be a genetic trait, or it can develop on its own. This is a harmless condition that you may nevertheless wish to remove with laser surgery if you find it unattractive.

Tongue Piercing

Sometimes black spots can be left behind on the tongue as a result of a tongue piercing. In the areas where you had the piercing you may have lost pigmentation and this then leaves small black marks.

Oral Cancer

In rare cases black spots on the tongue may also be a sign of oral cancer. For this reason it is very important to get them checked over by an expert. This is a rare symptom however so treat with due concern but do not panic prematurely. Other symptoms of oral cancer are lumps in the mouth and difficulty in swallowing.


If you smoke a lot or drink excess amounts of alcohol, then you can develop what’s known as a hairy tongue. Of course this isn’t hair like that found on the head, but rather fungus that grows on the tongue that appears as black clusters. This will disappear on its own if you stop drinking or smoking and is yet another good incentive to do so.


Of course the tongue is a fairly unusual part of the body and is in fact a muscle. As such it tends to react slightly differently to cuts and wounds than would a part of the skin and sometimes areas where you’ve bitten or hurt your tongue can appear as dark patches.


  1. thanks very helpful!

  2. Great, very informative.

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