It Burns!
January 4, 2005 5:02 PM   Subscribe

What do you do if you have 2nd degree burns in your mouth?
posted by furiousxgeorge to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I should also ask, why does the mouth seem to be so good at repairing serious first-degree burns? I burn my mouth on pizza/soup/boiling sauce at least twice a week, and it always heals within 36 hours.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:04 PM on January 4, 2005

From my understanding the mouth heals more quickly than other skin areas. For this reason, when my wife needed a tumor removed from her cheek, the surgeon went awkwardly through her mouth rather than through the skin on her face. The stitches dissolved in a few days and the wound more or less closed up in a week or so (it had to drain).

Of course the doctor had to yank her mouth way off to the side in order to do the work, which caused a lot of pain.

A veterinarian working at the zoo confirmed that this was the case. I can't find anything on google though. I'd be interested in hearing more about this.
posted by phatboy at 5:18 PM on January 4, 2005

From this article on soft tissues:

"Oral mucosa is a much more forgiving tissue than skin when it comes to wound healing. The oral mucosa appears to be a "privileged site" in the adult that retains fetal-like ability to heal without scar formation."

Emphasis mine. A further digging through a search on "oral mucosa" and "wound healing" may provide more in-depth answers for those interested.
posted by mnology at 5:25 PM on January 4, 2005

Well, if it's anything close to the time you burned it, you should definitely suck on ice cubes. Protein has a remarkable ability to store heat--when you burn your finger, a lot of the damage actually occurs _after_ you pull it away.

It's basically the same principle where you have to expect meat or eggs to continue cooking for at least 5-10 minutes after you take them off the stove or out of the oven, before you'd think they were done...the latent heat will continue to cook the overall volume for a while after it's off the flame. The best thing you can always do for a quick burn is to ice it, for as long as you can stand...I just got a burn off a hot pot from the oven this evening, and it doesn't even hurt any more.

Of course, since you've had the time to type this and wait for a reply, I'm assuming that advice is basically academic, for next time. Once it's set, the best thing you can do for a mouth burn is the same that you can do for any other burn--look for things that can coat it, keep it most, and help stop it from getting irritated. You probably shouldn't suck on Vaseline or Neosporin, but you can use ice cubes, syrupy lozenges, etc. Actually, maybe the best suggestion, if it's just to kill the pain, is those Chloraseptic lozenges and sprays--as a topical analgesic, they should help dull the pain a bit.
posted by LairBob at 5:26 PM on January 4, 2005

I previously discussed my treatment for a burnt tongue/roof of mouth during the pipe-smoking thread.
posted by Danelope at 5:40 PM on January 4, 2005

To correct the last bit of LairBob's post, it looks like ice and ointments are not recommended first aid for burns. And it looks like 2nd degree mouth burns (search for "mouth") fall into the "see a doctor" category.

I see to recall that LairBob's advice was once the typical first aid (like syrup of ipecac for poisoning), but I don't know when (or if) it changed.

Also, IANA doctor, training to be one, or anything like that.
posted by MikeKD at 8:19 PM on January 4, 2005

I once had serious burns on the inside of my mouth from a very hot plate of nachos. (I had two or three heat blisters on the roof of my mouth.)

I was quite intoxicated, and didn't notice the pain until I was about halfway through eating them...

I went home and went to bed. When I woke up, the blisters and pain had subsided. I ate soft food for a day and was fine shortly thereafter. (I probably should have considered suing that diner, too!)
posted by dfx at 8:43 PM on January 4, 2005

To correct the last bit of LairBob's post, it looks like ice and ointments are not recommended first aid for burns.

My understanding is that ice is fine, but packing the area in ice and leaving it too long can cause damage. Which only makes sense.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:18 PM on January 4, 2005

Well, if it's anything close to the time you burned it, you should definitely suck on ice cubes.
On skin burns for second degree or worse burns, don't use ice. It has a decent likelyhood of damaging the skin moreso than it already is and causing infections (that is why burns are bad- not because of the pain or swelling, but because of the massive infections which can come with them).
posted by jmd82 at 11:41 PM on January 4, 2005

i would suggest giving up on the dreams of being a professional fire-swallower.

seriously, see a doc if you can afford it. the mouth does heal pretty quickly, but second degree burns aren't your average pizza-induced mouth burn. don't go for an "old wives tale" remedy without consulting someone who knows better (like the whole "butter on a burn" thing, you may only be making it worse!)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:08 AM on January 5, 2005

I have scars on the inside of my mouth from a better-insulated-than-I-thought cup of tea that was still searing hot when I drank it. I couldn't taste for a few days and it hurt for a day or two, but really no harm done in the long-term. You'll be fine, just be patient.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:32 PM on January 5, 2005

There are some aloe vera juice preparations that are safe for consumption. Hold the solution in your mouth.
posted by Feisty at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2005

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