Tongue burn is considered as a common ailment. In most cases, the condition occurs right after eating or drinking something that is too hot. The basic first aid treatment for burns is also applicable to burns on the tongue.
A mild tongue burn can be annoying but it will eventually heal on its own. On the other hand, serious burns on the tongue would require the same immediate medical care that is given to any burn on any part of the body. In some cases, an individual can experience a burning sensation on the tongue without even burning it. This is known as the burning tongue syndrome.
Cause of tongue burn
Majority of individuals tend to underestimate the temperature of hot foods and liquids, thus resulting to the burning of the tongue as well as other areas of the mouth or lips.
With the burning tongue syndrome, it is basically a condition that can elicit the sensation of burning on the tongue without any reason. Burning tongue syndrome is categorized in two types – primary and secondary. The primary is the type in which there is no known cause. For the secondary, it is likely due to an underlying medical condition. The secondary type can be caused by the following:
- Dry mouth
- Oral lichen planus
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Geographic tongue
- Presence of dentures
- Anxiety or depression
- Allergic reaction to certain foods
- Damage to the nerves
- Stomach acid that makes it way to the mouth
- Grinding of teeth or brushing the teeth too hard
- Hormonal imbalance
- Endocrine disorders such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
- Certain medications for high blood pressure
Risk factors for tongue burn
Individuals who frequently eat and drink hot food and liquids without checking the temperature are at high risk for getting a tongue burn.
Women at the postmenopausal phase are at high risk for developing the burning tongue syndrome. This is due to the diminishing estrogen levels that can lead to the decline in the sensitivity of the taste buds.
Symptoms of tongue burn
A burn on the tongue can appear and feel different depending on the degree of the burn.
- A first-degree burn damages the external layer of the tongue. It can cause pain and the tongue is swollen and red in color.
- A second-degree burn is more painful since both the external and deep layers of the tongue are damaged. Expect the formation of blisters and the tongue appears swollen and red.
- A third-degree burn damages the deepest tissues in the tongue. It results to a white or black burnt skin. There is also severe pain and numbness.
How to treat a tongue burn
The initial first aid treatment for a tongue burn includes the following:
- Rinse the area with cool water
- Dirt or particles must be removed
- With a wet clean cloth, hold it on top of the burn.
- Provide ice chips to provide relief to the pain.
- Instruct individual to gargle salt water or cool water
- Sprinkle a small amount of sugar on the tongue to help relieve pain
- Administer over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen