Last Updated on May 4, 2023 by Beth Skwarecki
Have you ever taken a sip of hot coffee or bitten into a slice of pizza too soon, only to feel a sharp pain and discomfort in your tongue? You are not alone. A burnt tongue is a common occurrence that can happen to anyone, but it can be unpleasant and affect your ability to taste or eat. Fortunately, simple home remedies can help heal a burnt tongue and relieve the pain and discomfort associated with it. In this article, we will explore the causes and symptoms of burnt tongue, as well as effective ways to treat and prevent it from happening again. So, if you’ve ever had a burnt tongue and wondered what to do about it, keep reading!
What Is A Tongue Burn?
A tongue burn is an injury to the tongue caused by exposure to high-temperature, spicy, or acidic substances. It occurs when the sensitive tissues on the tongue are exposed to excessive heat or irritating substances, leading to pain, swelling, and sometimes changes in taste perception.
Tongue burns can range in severity from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the injury and the cause of the burn. Common causes of tongue burns include drinking hot beverages, eating hot food, or consuming spicy or acidic food. While a tongue burn can be uncomfortable and interfere with eating or speaking, most cases can be treated at home with simple remedies.
What Causes Burnt Tongue
There are several common causes of the burnt tongue, including:
- Hot foods and drinks: The most common cause of tongue burns is consuming hot foods and beverages that are not at a safe temperature. This can include coffee, tea, soup, pizza, or other foods too hot to eat or drink.
- Spicy foods: Spicy foods can also cause a tongue burn or irritation, especially if you are not used to eating spicy foods or have a sensitive palate.
- Acidic foods and drinks: Foods and beverages that are highly acidic, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar, can irritate the tongue and cause a burning sensation.
- Chemical burns: Certain chemicals or cleaning agents, such as mouthwash or teeth whitening agents, can cause a chemical burn on the tongue if not used properly.
- Allergic reactions: A tongue burn may be caused by an allergic reaction to certain foods or medications.
The symptoms of a burnt tongue can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the cause of the burn. Common symptoms of a burnt tongue may include:
- Pain and discomfort: The most common symptom of a burnt tongue is pain or discomfort, which may be mild or severe depending on the extent of the injury.
- Swelling: The tongue may become swollen or inflamed after a burn, making it difficult to eat or speak.
- Changes in taste: A tongue burn may also affect your sense of taste, causing a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth or making it difficult to taste certain foods.
- Redness or discoloration: The affected tongue area may become red or discolored, indicating inflammation or injury.
- Blisters: In more severe cases, blisters may form on the tongue, which can be painful and may increase the risk of infection.
Home Remedies For Healing A Burnt Tongue
Several home remedies can help relieve pain and promote the healing of a burnt tongue. Here are some of the most effective home remedies:
- Cool or cold water: Drinking cool or cold water can help soothe a burnt tongue and reduce inflammation. Sip water slowly and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.
- Milk or dairy products: The protein in milk and other dairy products can help neutralize the acids that cause a tongue burn. Drinking a glass of milk or eating a spoonful of yogurt can help relieve pain and promote healing.
- Honey: Honey has natural antibacterial properties that can help prevent infection and promote the healing of a burnt tongue. Place a small amount of honey on the affected area of the tongue and let it dissolve slowly.
- Ice chips: Sucking on ice chips can help numb the pain and reduce the swelling of a burnt tongue. Be careful not to hold the ice on the tongue for too long, as this can cause additional injury.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation of a burnt tongue. Follow the dosage instructions on the label carefully.
- Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe a burnt tongue and promote healing. Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to the affected area of the tongue and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it with cool water.
How Serious Is A Burned Tongue?
In most cases, a burned tongue is not a serious medical condition and can be treated with simple home remedies. However, the severity of a tongue burn can vary depending on the extent of the injury and the cause of the burn.
Mild tongue burns may cause discomfort and pain but typically heal within a few days. More severe tongue burns can cause swelling, blisters, and changes in taste perception, which may take longer to heal and may require medical attention. In rare cases, a severe tongue burn may lead to infection or difficulty breathing or swallowing, which requires immediate medical attention.
To prevent a burnt tongue, you can take the following steps:
- Check the temperature: Always check the temperature of hot foods and drinks before consuming them. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the food or drink has cooled to a safe temperature before consuming it.
- Avoid spicy foods: If you are prone to tongue burns, avoiding spicy foods that irritate the tongue may be helpful.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks: Highly acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar, can irritate the tongue and cause a burning sensation. Avoid these foods if you are prone to tongue burns.
- Be cautious with chemical agents: Be cautious when using chemical agents, such as mouthwash or teeth whitening products, to avoid chemical burns on the tongue.
- Slow down: Take your time when eating or drinking hot foods and drinks. Sipping slowly and cooling down the food or drink can help prevent tongue burns.
- Use caution with hot appliances: Be cautious when using hot appliances, such as ovens and stovetops, to avoid accidentally burning your tongue or mouth.
A burnt tongue can be a painful and uncomfortable experience, but many simple home remedies can help alleviate the symptoms and promote healing. By taking preventive measures, such as being cautious with hot foods and appliances, you can reduce your risk of experiencing a tongue burn. If your symptoms are severe or do not improve, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent further complications.
Beth is Cloudmineinc’s senior health editor and a certified personal trainer. She has over 10 years experience as a science journalist and is the author of two books. She deadlifts over 315 lbs.