Leukoplakia is a disorder of the mouth’s mucus membranes. White patches form on the tongue or inside of the mouth over weeks or months. This can also occur on the vulva in females, but for unknown reasons. One type, known as hairy leukoplakia, is a type found primarily in people who have HIV or other types of severe immune deficiency.

Hairy leukoplakia results from infection with the Epstein-Barr virus.

Leukoplakia usually results from irritants, such as:

  • Pipe or cigarette smoking
  • Chewing tobacco or snuff
  • Rough teeth
  • Rough places on dentures, fillings, or crowns