Whether the culprit was soup, coffee, tea, or something else, a burn on your tongue can be very unpleasant. Read on to learn more about tongue burns: how they happen, how to do first aid at home, and what to do if they’re serious. As always, this advice isn’t meant to replace a doctor’s care: if you’re worried about a burn, you should seek medical attention.
All About Burns
Many burns around the home happen when someone touches or spills something hot. Tongue burns are a little different: they’re most likely to happen when you eat or drink something hot (in terms of temperature, not spice).
Like many everyday burns, a burnt tongue is often the result of poor situational awareness. If you’re in a hurry, or you’re otherwise not paying attention, you may scald your tongue by trying to eat or drink something that’s far too hot. Remember: you can always let your food cool down and come back to it later.
Keep in mind that different people may have different tolerances for heat. Children and babies, in particular, can experience pain from a burn an adult would shrug off. Always test the temperature of hot food or drink before giving it to a child.
Treating a Burnt Tongue
Most tongue burns are superficial. The mouth is very sensitive to heat, and most people have an impulsive reaction to spit out something that’s too hot. If you only experience mild pain, you’ll probably get over it in a few minutes.
If you can’t or won’t remove the hot substance from your mouth, or if the substance was extremely hot, you may experience more serious burns. This may cause redness, or even blistering in more serious cases.
As with a burn in the kitchen, exposing your burnt tongue to cool temperatures will soothe your pain and decrease inflammation. Try sucking on an ice cube or ice pop, drinking yogurt, or eating milk.
If your pain persists, try taking an anti-inflammatory pain reliever (like aspirin or Tylenol). Don’t put any creams or topical medicines on your tongue unless your doctor recommends it, because these usually aren’t safe to eat.
If you notice intense or prolonged pain, or if you notice peeling or blistering, you may have a more serious burn. In these cases, you should get to a doctor or dentist as soon as possible for treatment.
Your tongue is one of the most sensitive parts of your body, and it can be very painful if burnt. By practicing situational awareness and taking appropriate first aid steps, you can treat your burn and get back to normal.