Getting a burn on your lip from hot food is common, though it may be less talked about than burning skin on other parts of your body. It can also happen from chemicals, sunburns, or smoking.
Because the skin on your lips is thin and delicate, burns that happen there — even if they’re minor — may be:
- more serious
- more prone to infection or other complications than skin burns elsewhere
Symptoms of a burned lip include:
The best type of treatment for burned lips depends on its degree of injury. First-, second-, and third-degree burns are all possible.
- First-degree burns. These are mild burns on the skin surface.
- Second-degree burns. These can be serious and happen when multiple layers of skin are burned.
- Third-degree burns. These are the most serious and require immediate medical attention. All skin layers are burned along with deeper subcutaneous fat tissues.
Most burns of the lips are thermal burns. These happen due to contact with extreme heat or fire.
Mild scalds and burns
Mild, first-degree burns on the lips are the most common. These can be caused from ordinary circumstances, like food, utensils, or liquids that get too hot and touch the lips when eating or drinking. Even too-spicy foods can cause mild lip burns.
Mild scalds and burns on the lips can be treated at home with the following methods.
Apply cool, room-temperature water or a cool damp cloth to the burn. Make sure the water and cloth are clean. This helps reduce inflammation immediately following the burn. Do not apply ice or freezing cold water.
Gentle methods of cleaning, such as soft soap or saline solution, are recommended right after the burn to cleanse it and prevent infection.
In most cases, mild burns on the lips require no home treatment since they pose little chance of infection. Keep the burn clean, avoid picking at it, and it should heal quickly.
Burn blister on lip
Second-degree burns usually mean more than one skin layer has been damaged. These burns typically lead to the forming of a blister.
Don’t pop or pick at the blister. It’s best to leave the skin unbroken and intact to guard against infection
Cooling compresses, cleaning, and aloe vera gel can also be used to treat a more severe burn.
Topical antibiotic ointments
Antibiotic ointments can help prevent infection, though they’re not required for mild burns. They should not be applied immediately after a burn.
Ointment should be applied only if the skin or blister is unbroken, and after the burn has already started healing. This is usually one to two days following burn occurrence.
Neosporin or Polysporin are over-the-counter examples of topical antibiotic ointments you can use. They should be used only if you’re not allergic to any of these ingredients.
You can also use OTC pain relievers as needed to manage pain.
If the burn becomes infected and the infection does not improve or if it worsens, see a doctor. They may prescribe oral antibiotics or a stronger topical antibiotic. They may also suggest other treatment approaches.
Lip burn from smoking
One common cause of burns may happen from cigarette or other types of smoking.
These may cause either first- or second-degree burns on the lips, depending on the severity. The same approaches to either severity may be used in this instance.
Sunburn on lip
Getting a sunburn on your lips is also common.
This can be much like experiencing a scald or burn from heat or fire. In other cases, it may be more like painful, chapped lips.
Using salves, balms, moisturizers, or herbs like aloe on sunburned lips can help heal them and provide relief from pain or dryness.
Keep in mind that if the sunburn causes broken skin or an infection, avoid using oil-based remedies, including antibiotic ointments or creams until the skin is closed.
Aloe vera gel and cool compresses are a good start until the skin heals. After that, oil-based remedies may be used.
Chemical burn on lip
You can also get chemical burns on your lips, though this is rare. Ammonia, iodine, alcohol, or other chemicals can cause burns when they get in contact with the lips in certain circumstances.
These typically cause first-degree burns that look like scalds, though second-degree burns and blistering is possible. Treat these burns the same way you would other first- and second-degree burns on your lips.
Infection is the most common complication from a burn. Look for the following signs of infection:
- discolored skin (purple, black, or blue)
- pus from open skin
- oozing open skin
- blisters that won’t heal for a week or longer
If an infection worsens with treatment of your burned lip, see a doctor, especially if you develop a fever.
If your burn is very severe but you’re not experiencing any pain, you may have a third-degree burn. Look for signs of white, black, brown, or scarred and charred-looking skin.
If several layers of skin and deep tissues appear to be burned, do not attempt to treat your burn at home. Seek medical help right away.
Lip burns may be more painful and uncomfortable due to the delicate and sensitive skin on your lips. You can treat the injuries yourself if they’re first- or second-degree burns. But if they become infected, see a doctor.
Seek medical attention immediately if you think you have a third-degree burn.