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How to Treat a Burnt Tongue

Couldn’t wait for your food to cool down? Here’s what to do.

You ate a light lunch knowing you were going out for a big dinner tonight, but your food is taking forever to arrive and you’re starving. You can’t wait one second to take a bite after that steaming pizza is set down—but you should have, because the piping hot cheese has now burned your tongue. Eek! While a burnt tongue might sometimes seem like a nuisance, if it’s causing you lasting pain or caused a sore in your mouth, there are a few simple things you can do to treat your tongue until it eventually heals on its own (often within 10 to 14 days).

1. Rinse the affected area immediately. For minor burns—like what would likely occur from eating hot foods or drinks—you can cool the burn by slowly drinking or gargling with cool (not cold or icy) water.

2. Try breathing through your mouth for a while. It may sound and feel awkward (especially if you’re in public), but the cool air rushing over your tongue will give you some relief.

3. Grab an ice pop. Go for a healthy fruit-flavored one and not a fudge pop (as delicious as they are!). It will also help your mouth feel better.

4. Have some honey. Once you’ve cooled off, try applying honey directly to the affected area. Some studies suggest that honey could help with healing of minor burns. If you can, try to use unprocessed, undiluted honey, which has been found in research to provide the best response. Researchers think this is because of honey’s antibacterial action, moisture, low pH, high viscosity, and hydrogen peroxide content.

5. Avoid additional irritants. Perhaps it’s obvious, but it’s worth repeating: while recovering from a tongue burn it’s best to avoid any additional irritants that may make the burn worse or cause it to take longer to heal. That includes putting a stop to eating whatever it was that was so hot it burned you in the first place (cold pizza isn’t so bad!), avoiding other hot drinks and foods, as well as avoiding spicy, salty, and citrusy foods, which could all further agitate the area.

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