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Smokeless Tobacco Keratosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is smokeless tobacco keratosis?

Smokeless tobacco keratosis is a condition that causes thick white patches to form on skin in your mouth. Your skin may also be wrinkled or look like leather. The patches form where you hold smokeless tobacco in your mouth. Examples include your inner cheek and between your teeth and gums. Chewing tobacco, snuff, and dipping tobacco (dip) can all cause this condition. Smokeless tobacco keratosis is also called tobacco pouch keratosis or snuff dipper's lesion.

How is smokeless tobacco keratosis diagnosed and treated?

The condition is not painful and does not cause other signs or symptoms. You may not know you have it until your dental provider sees the patches on a routine dental exam. Tell your provider how much smokeless tobacco you use every day, and for how many years you have used it. The treatment for smokeless tobacco keratosis is to stop using smokeless tobacco. The patches should go away within about a month after you stop. If they do not go away, see your dental provider right away. Smokeless tobacco keratosis slightly increases your risk for oral cancer.

What can I do to care for myself?

  • Do not smoke, and do not use smokeless tobacco products. Tobacco and nicotine products can also increase your risk for other health conditions, such as lung and heart disease. E-cigarettes and similar products still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help to quit smoking or using nicotine products.
  • Visit your dental provider every 6 months for cleaning and preventive care. Your provider will also check for signs of oral cancer.

Where can I find more information and support to quit using smokeless tobacco?

    Phone: 1- 800 - 784-8669
    Web Address:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have new or worsening sores in your mouth, or other symptoms develop.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.