Doctor, doctor: Reddish circles on the tongue | Bumpy moles

My three-year-old daughter sometimes has reddish circles on her tongue about the size of a 5p piece. They often follow colds and viral infections. Should I take her to my GP?

There's not really any need. You are describing classic 'geographic tongue', which is common in children. Here is how one textbook describes it: 'One or more irregular smooth red patches appear on the upper surface of the tongue, each patch being surrounded by a grey-white raised serpiginous edge. The shapes change from day to day, lasting a few days, with frequent recurrences.' If that is what your daughter has, it isn't an illness. There is no treatment, or need for it. It is eventually self-limiting: it rarely lasts beyond early childhood.

My GP recently removed two bumpy moles from the back of my neck, but one is still partly there and is still bumpy. I've been told GPs shouldn't do this type of minor surgery. Do you agree?

No, I don't. If the naevus (the correct name for a mole) is obviously benign, there's no reason why a GP shouldn't remove it. The residual bumpiness may be a little fibrous scarring under the skin. If there is some of the mole left (in other words, there is still pigmented skin there), it should be seen again. If there is any question of its being malignant, of course, people with a mole should be sent urgently to a local skin department. Do be assured that only a very tiny proportion of moles become malignant, and that GPs are well trained in how to recognise the ones that are at risk.

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