Can Your Tongue Get Sunburned?

This blog post will answer the question, ”Can your tongue get sunburned?” and cover topics like causes and symptoms of tongue burn, complications from a tongue burn and ways to prevent tongue burn with some home remedies to heal tongue and mouth burn.

Can Your Tongue Get Sunburned?

No, it is not possible for your tongue to get sunburn unless you stick out your tongue and expose it to the sun. A tongue burn is a common ailment. Typically, the condition occurs after eating or drinking something that’s too hot. Identifying the cause of tongue burn is crucial for its proper treatment.

A severe burn of the tongue can become infected if quick and accurate treatment is not initiated. Tongue Burn can also destroy taste buds, leading to loss of sensation where the burn occurred. 

Sensation loss is a temporary complication as your taste buds generally regenerate in about every two weeks.

What is a tongue burn?

A tongue burn is a common ailment that occurs after eating very hot food or drinking very hot liquid. 

Causes of a tongue burn

Tongue Burn from extremely hot food or liquid

Eating and drinking very hot food and beverages without having proper estimation of its temperature frequently causes tongue burn.

If you misjudged and accidentally sipped an extremely hot drink then the fastest way to get relief from tongue burn is to sip cold water.

Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a condition that presents as a burning sensation in the absence of any obvious cause or findings in the mouth and in the absence of abnormal blood tests. 

BMS affects around 2% of the population with women being up to seven times more likely to be diagnosed than men.

BMS may be classified by either its cause or symptoms. 

There are three different types of BMS based on its symptoms:

Type 1: No Burning on waking-up. Burning increases as the day progresses. Diabetic patients with BMS typically have this type.

Type 2: People have symptoms during the day but no symptoms at night.

Type 3: Symptoms are irregular and may be associated with food allergies.

Burning is most commonly experienced on the tip and sides of the tongue, top of the tongue, roof of the mouth, and the inside surface of the lips. 

The cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome is unknown. It has been associated with abnormal function in the nerves of the mouth. Genetic and environmental factors also play a role in causing Burning Mouth Syndrome. 

Common primary factors contributing to Burning Mouth Syndrome may include 

  • Menopause
  • Adverse Life Events
  • Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • TMJ Problems
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia

Some secondary factors (factors that does not directly cause BMS but may worsen the burning mouth symptoms) contributing to Burning Mouth Syndrome are: 

  • Dry Mouth
  • Oral Thrush
  • Oral Lichen Planus
  • Vitamin Deficiencies
  • Ill-fitting Dentures
  • Teeth Grinding
  • Medications of Hypertension
  • Food Allergies

Symptoms of a tongue burn

The symptoms of tongue burn may vary depending on the cause.

Tongue Burn from extremely hot food or liquid

The common symptoms of tongue burn due to eating or drinking extremely hot food and beverages depend on the degree of burn.

1st DegreeOutermost layer of the tonguePainRed and swollen Tongue
2nd DegreeOutermost layer and the under layer of the tongueBlisters on burn area of tongueRed and swollen tongue
3rd DegreeDeepest tissue of the tongue Burnt skin that may appear white or blackNumbness or severe pain

Burning Mouth Syndrome

The symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) includes burning of tongue and may appear suddenly or develop over time. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may also involve lips, gums, throat and roof of the mouth. 

Some common symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome include:

  • Dryness in mouth
  • Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
  • Bitter or metallic taste or complete loss of taste
  • Numbness and tingling sensation
  • Discomfort of the tongue that increases in intensity as the day progress

Complications from a tongue burn

Tongue Burn from extremely hot food or liquid

A severe burn of the tongue can become infected if quick and accurate treatment is not initiated. Second and Third-degree burns must be reported to a dentist. First-degree tongue burn often self-heals. 

Burning Mouth Syndrome

The complications associated with Burning Mouth Syndrome are rare but some patients might experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Difficulty in eating or swallowing

Diagnosing a tongue burn

Tongue Burn from extremely hot food or liquid

The diagnosis of such a burn is simple. Normal examination of tongue by the doctor will help them determine the degree of tongue burn. 

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Diagnosis of BMS is done by ruling out conditions that may resemble the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. 

The initial step in diagnosis of BMS involves examination of the oral cavity by the dentist to rule out symptoms caused by incorrect oral care habits of the patients like brushing with a hard toothbrush, brushing very fast and vigorously or excessive use of mouthwash.

Your dentist may write several tests to rule out any differential diagnosis. Some tests that you might expect from your doctor are:

  • Blood Tests – To rule out any nutritional deficiencies and endocrine disorders.
  • Allergy tests – To rule out the tongue burn due to food allergens
  • Oral Samples – To rule out tongue burn due to oral lichen planus or oral thrush or any other infection.
  • Saliva Tests – To rule out tongue burn due to xerostomia (dry mouth)

Treating a tongue burn

Tongue Burn from extremely hot food or liquid

To reduce pain and avoid infection in a first-degree tongue burn, the following must be done: 

  • Sip cold water or suck on ice chips to relieve pain
  • No warm or hot liquids
  • Rinse with cool salt water (1/8 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of water)

Report to the doctor if pain and burning sensation persists.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Medically approved treatments for BMS are not known. However, some effective treatments may include:

  • Topical medications such as lidocaine and clonazepam
  • Oral medications such as gabapentin

Symptomatic treatment relieves the discomfort. 

Home remedies may also provide relief in some patients: 

Cold Water and Ice

To get relief from symptoms, patients must drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day or suck on ice chips. This helps reduce dryness in the mouth and bad taste.

Acidic foods and beverages, alcohol and spicy foods must be avoided as they irritate mouth and aggravate symptoms: 

No smoking

Smoking tobacco can aggravate the symptoms of BMS and therefore must be avoided at all cost.

Meditation and Yoga

Meditation and Yoga help reduce stress and anxiety and this relieves the patient symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.

How to prevent a tongue burn?

Tongue Burn from extremely hot food or liquid

To prevent tongue burn, you must first test the temperature of the food items and beverages you are going to eat or drink. The food items heated in a microwave oven have uneven temperatures and hence you must be extra cautious.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

To prevent BMS, you must avoid tobacco consumption in any form (smoke or smokeless tobacco), ensure that your dentures fit correctly and limit or avoid alcohol and acidic foods and drinks.

How to heal a burnt tongue and mouth?

Good oral hygiene, saline rinses, petroleum jelly and topical antibiotic ointment may help heal and provide relief from burnt tongue and mouth.


This blog post addressed the question, “Can Your Tongue Get Sunburned?” We understood the causes, symptoms, complications, diagnosis and treatment of tongue burn. The article also outlined certain home remedies, prevention strategies and ways to heal a burnt tongue. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can Your Tongue Get Sunburned?

Can you get sunburn in your mouth?

Lips are sun-exposed areas of the mouth and if unprotected may get sunburned from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

Why does my tongue look like it’s burnt?

Your tongue looks burnt may be due to an underlying condition like oral thrush which is a fungal infection in the mouth. Or it could be geographic tongue also known as benign migratory glossitis, a condition which coats your tongue with a map-like surface.

What are red spots on the tongue?

These little white or red bumps form when papillae become irritated and slightly swollen. It’s not always clear why this happens, but it may be related to stress, hormones, or particular foods. Although they can be uncomfortable, lie bumps aren’t serious and usually clear up without treatment and within a few days.

What does a B12 deficiency tongue look like?

B12 deficiency tongue looks sore and beefy-red in color. Swelling of the tongue called Glossitis gives a smooth appearance to the tongue.

What deficiency causes a burning tongue?

Burning tongue is caused due to Iron deficiency anaemia, deficiencies of Vitamin B12, folic acid, Vitamin B2 and zinc. 

How long does it take for a tongue to heal?

It takes less than a week for less severe tongue burn to heal whereas more severe tongue burn requires medical help and may take several weeks or months to fully heal.

How do you heal a burned tongue fast?

Burned tongue can heal fast if you act quickly and take frequent sips of cold water and rinse your mouth frequently with cold water and saline. It is advised not to drink or eat hot food items as it may increase the discomfort. 

What toothpaste should I use for burning mouth syndrome?

You should use a flavor-free toothpaste and restrict the use of alcohol based mouthwash to get relief from symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. Sodium lauryl sulphate-free toothpaste can help to relieve symptoms.

Other FAQs about Tongue Health that you may be interested in.

Can your tongue grow back?

Why do I keep biting my tongue in my sleep?

Why did I wake up with a black tongue?


Soto Araya M, Rojas Alcayaga G, Esguep A. Association between psychological disorders and the presence of Oral lichen planus, Burning mouth syndrome and Recurrent aphthous stomatitis. 2004 Jan-Feb;9(1):1-7. PMID: 14704611.

Burning mouth. (2017).

Five burning tongue remedies that soothe and heal. (n.d.).

Corsalini, Massimo et al. “Temporomandibular disorders in burning mouth syndrome patients: an observational study.” International journal of medical sciences vol. 10,12 1784-9. 29 Oct. 2013, doi:10.7150/ijms.6327

The American Academy of Oral Medicine, Burning Mouth Syndrome

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Geographic tongue.

The American Academy of Oral Medicine, Oral Lichen Planus

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