No one among us is immune to the allure of a slice of piping-hot pizza. When it comes out of the oven, it’s as if an unnatural force draws you to it, telling you to take a bite even when your brain knows you’re basically pouring molten lava into your mouth. Punishment is imminent, but that pepperoni slice looks so good.

Well, whether it’s that pizza, a cup of coffee, or even soup that heated up too hot, you can actually help heal your mouth when you burn it.

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Why do mouths burn with hot food?

Your mouth is lined with delicate tissues that are sensitive to temperatures and textures. They’re a vital part of the food-eating experience. But because they’re so delicate, they’re easily damaged.

Biting into pizza that is too hot is likely to cause a first-degree burn on your mouth’s tissues. It’s uncomfortable—everything will taste a bit dull and feel a bit scratchy for a few days—but it’s not at all serious in most cases. You won’t need medical treatment, but you can and should take a few steps to make your mouth more comfortable.

How to treat mouth burns from hot pizza

First, put the pizza down. You need to let it cool, lest you worsen your problem. 

  • Take a sip. Immediately after burning your mouth, sip something cool. Ice may be too cold, but a cold drink will ease the discomfort. Milk may also help coat the mouth and ease the burning if you have some on hand.
  • Play it smooth. Stick to creamy, smooth foods for a few days. They can be cold foods like ice cream, yogurt, and pudding. If you eat warmed foods like soup or oatmeal, don’t make them too hot or give them a chance to cool down before eating them.
  • Skip the crunch. Avoid crunchy foods or anything with sharp pieces. This includes potato chips, fried food, and crackers. These edges can poke and aggravate the delicate skin.
  • Say no to acid. Acidic foods like pickles and sauerkraut may irritate the sensitive skin while it’s healing. Avoid anything with a lot of salt or vinegar.
  • Oh, aloe. Fresh aloe is safe to use on the inside of your mouth. You can also rinse with aloe juice. The healing properties of this plant can help reduce discomfort
  • Rinse and spit. A salt rinse is another great way to help ease pain. It can also reduce the risk of infection if you have an open blister or sore from the burn. Combine 1/2 teaspoon in 8 ounces of water. Swish a swig of the water several times, spitting it out after each rinse.
  • Take a pill. Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help with inflammation. Orajel may also help with pain.

If your burned mouth begins to develop blisters or you have severe pain, you may have more damage from the burn than typical. Second- and third-degree burns are possible from food, but they’re very rare. If your mouth doesn’t seem to be healing or you develop new issues like a fever or trouble swallowing, see your doctor.

And the next time you’re eager to dive into that pepperoni pie, pace yourself. Pizza is always worth a bit of heat exposure to get that ooey-gooey cheese experience, but it’s not worth the actual pain that comes with minor burns.

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