Pain relief for burns

7 Home Remedies for Burns

Ginger for Burns

If you sustain a minor burn in the kitchen, reach for some ginger. Cut off the end and press the exposed area against your burn. Many say ginger works even better than a piece of aloe plant at soothing burns.

Burn An-Tea-Dote

If you’ve burned yourself in the kitchen, help is close by. Researchers at UCLA found that the tannins found in tea can soothe burns in as little as five minutes. After rinsing and cleaning a minor burn, place a cool, wet teabag directly on the area for relief.

How to Ease a Burned Mouth

Ow! If you or your child bites into a piece of pizza that’s too hot to eat, reach for a glass of milk. Drinking milk will soothe the roof of your mouth better than drinking cold water will, because the protein in milk will create a protective film over any burns. Now let the pizza cool a bit before you take another bite!

Baking Soda Bath for Burns

A cup or two of baking soda poured into a bathtub full of warm water will relieve burned skin and is a fantastic soak for those unfortunate enough to be burned over large areas of their body. You can also create a paste with baking soda and water and apply it as a compress.

Help Burns with Salt

Once a blister forms over your minor burn, you can help it heal with a salt water compress. Mix together 2 tablespoons salt with a tablespoon water, and transfer this paste to a clean, dry cloth. Press it against the burned skin for up to an hour. As anyone who has spent time by the ocean knows, salt water helps speed the healing of minor wounds.

Vitamin E Treatment

If your burn is on the mend, help it on its way with some vitamin E. Just pop open a capsule (the same kind you’d take as a dietary supplement) and rub the contents on your skin. Vitamin E is thought to prevent scarring.

Natural Remedies from Your Kitchen

If you don’t have any of the above on hand, don’t fret! A number of common kitchen staples can help relieve the inflammation of a burn. Good choices include honey, tofu, cucumber, a banana peel, grated carrot, raw potato, and even yogurt. These cool foods will give you quick relief of your symptoms.

Want some more natural remedies for everyday health problems? Check out our Health and Beauty Pinterest board or like us on Facebook for our Tip of the Day!

The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only. The author and publisher do not accept liability for damages arising from the use, attempted use, misuse, or application of any of the suggestions included on this website.

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Health and Wellness

The Right Way to Treat Burns

Water from a boiling pot splashes onto your arm. In search of cool relief, you reach for an ice pack. But that’s the last thing you should do, says Angela Gibson, MD, PhD, who specializes in the surgical treatment of burns and trauma at UW Health’s Burn Center.

“It makes you feel better, but the ice could lead to a deepening of the burn because it causes constriction of the blood vessels,” Gibson explains.

Nearly a half million people seek treatment for burns every year, and many more deal with mild burns at home. Burn injuries are classified with degrees: first-degree burns affect just the top layer of skin (epidermis), second-degree burns reach the dermis layer in the middle, and third-degree burns affect the full thickness of skin, down to the layer of fat underneath the dermis.

Tips for Treating Burn Injuries

Without proper treatment, even superficial burns can deepen, making healing more difficult. Gibson shares the following tips for treating burn injuries:

Know when to see a doctor. How do you know if a burn is bad enough to warrant a trip to the nearest clinic or hospital? “If the pain is out of control and you’re not able to clean it thoroughly, or if the burn is on your face/neck, hands,feet, or over a joint, you should see a doctor,” Gibson says. If you’re not sure, call your doctor, who can easily reach the nearest burn center for advice. “We’re just a phone call away,” Gibson notes.

At the same time, no pain at all can also be a bad sign. “A deep burn will have no sensation; it will be pale, white or yellow, and it will be leathery and drier than a less severe burn, which is moist or pink,” she explains. Severe burns may require skin grafting (transplanting skin from another part of your body).

Forget the ice and reach for the plastic wrap. While ice is a no-no, “running it under cool water is fine,” Gibson says. But if you’re seeking professional medical care, you want to keep the wound clean and dry. She recommends loosely wrapping the injury with plastic cling wrap, which can keep the wound clean without sticking and can ease the pain until you can get to the clinic or hospital. “If nerves are exposed to air, it hurts a lot more,” she explains.

Keep it clean. A simple washing with water and soap will do. “The wound needs to be cleaned properly to avoid infection, and cleaning a burn injury can be incredibly painful. That’s why we admit some patients even with smaller wounds,” she says. If you can’t clean it on your own, you’ll need to see a professional and follow their instructions to keep the wound bacteria-free at home.

Yes to blisters, no to scabs. “Scabs are not good because they lead to scarred wound healing,” Gibson says. But a blister can be a natural protective barrier as a burn injury heals. If the blister is impeding motion, it may need to be opened up, and if it pops on its own, “it needs to be unroofed because otherwise you’re trapping bacteria,” she says.

Monitor your healing. It may be difficult to tell when a burn has healed because it will have a different coloration from your regular skin, but healed skin will look dry. The exception is full-thickness burns, which will appear dry from the start. “If you’ve had a burn you’ve been treating for more than a week and it isn’t healing, you should be seen by a doctor,” Gibson says. “Wounds that still haven’t healed after two weeks may need to be skin grafted.”

Prevent future burns. Of course, the best approach is to avoid a burn in the first place. “Most patients are surprised by how short a contact with heat can be to give them a burn,” Gibson says. Both infants and the elderly are more susceptible to burns because they have thinner skin. Gibson has seen infants and toddlers burn their feet after walking over coals still smoldering the day after a campfire, and elderly patients who’ve burned themselves simply by using water that’s too hot. Some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Water heaters should be kept to 120 degrees. “Burns are all about temperature and contact time,” Gibson says. “So the longer the contact time and the higher the temperature, the deeper the burn. At 140 degrees, it takes only five seconds to get a full thickness burn.”
  • If a grease fire erupts on your stove, don’t try to put it out with water and never try to move the pan before it’s cooled . “Water makes it go out of control,” she explains. “You want to cover it with something to smother the oxygen.”
  • Avoid using gasoline and other accelerants to start fires. “Even the vapors from gasoline can ignite and cause a huge combustion,” she says.

Learn more and find other resources from the UW Health Burn Center.

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Date Published: 09/19/2017
News tag(s): wellness, angela l gibson, healthy living


What are the types of burns?

Pain resulting from burn injuries can be challenging to treat because burns differ in their types and severity. There are three types of burns:

  • First-degree burns are considered mild compared to other burns. They result in pain and reddening of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin).
  • Second-degree burns affect the epidermis and the dermis (lower layer of skin). They cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering.
  • Third-degree burns go through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. They result in white or blackened, charred skin that might be numb.

What causes burns?

Thermal burns are the most common type of burns. These burns occur when flames, hot metals, scalding liquids, or steam come in contact with the skin. These burns can result from many different circumstances including house fires, vehicle accidents, kitchen accidents, and electrical malfunctions.

What are the symptoms of burns?

  • Blisters
  • Pain — The degree of pain is not related to the severity of the burn as the most serious burns can be painless
  • Peeling skin
  • Red skin
  • Shock — Symptoms of shock include pale and clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and fingernails, and a drop in alertness
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin
  • Heart rhythm disturbances following electrical injury

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Exactly What to Do to Treat a Kitchen Burn at Home

You’re transferring that hot kettle of boiling water to your tea mug and bam—the scorching water spills on your arm. Suddenly you’re in a lot of pain, and you start to notice redness and swelling on your skin, the telltale signs of burn.

The scary part of getting a burn is that you risk permanent scarring, infection, and other consequences depending on the type of burn you have. Yet figuring out fast which degree the burn is and then knowing how to treat it can minimize damage.

If the burn penetrates all layers of the skin, the skin is leathery or charred, the hands, feet, face, or genitals are burned, or if the affected person is a child or elderly, you’ll need to call an ambulance for urgent medical care. But less severe burns can be treated at home. Here’s how to know what type of burn you’re dealing with, what to do immediately to reduce damage, the recovery time you can expect, and the home remedies that can speed healing.

RELATED: This Woman’s Acne Treatment Caused Large Scars—Here’s Why She’s Embraced Them

How to treat a first-degree burn

“Burns are classified by degrees of how deeply they have injured the skin,” explains Sonia Batra, MD, dermatologist and co-host of the television show The Doctors. A burn can be differentiated usually just by looking at your skin’s reaction after the burn occurs, says Dr. Batra.

A first-degree burn is a superficial burn that can cause the skin to turn red and swell slightly but does not eventually result in blistering.

Here’s how to treat a first-degree burn. “First-degree burns can typically be taken care of at home by running the affected area under cool (not cold) water and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for minor pain,” says Dr. Batra. Do this immediately and keep the area around the burn clean and clear. Cover with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or cloth and avoid sunlight.

First-degree burns typically heal within 7 to 10 days. To help it heal, never put ice on it; this can actually make it worse. A cool (not cold) compress is a better idea to soothe any lingering pain.

Scarring occurs depending on the depth of the burn, as deeper burns require new tissue formation to restore the skin’s outer seal. While the new tissue formed may not appear to match the surrounding skin in color or texture, “first-degree burns rarely scar since only the top layer of epidermis is affected,” says Dr. Batra.

RELATED: 5 Foods for Healthy Skin

How to treat a second-degree burn

A second-degree burn can cause pain and initial swelling, and then blisters, reddening, soreness, and thickening of the skin.

“Second-degree burns can be treated by running the affected area under cool (not cold) water for at least 15 minutes and taking over-the-counter pain meds,” says Dr. Batra. A cool compress can also be used, but again, don’t use ice.

As blisters form, do not pop or break the new blisters. These blisters can become infected and lead to further damage and scarring if they are broken or not treated properly.

Here’s how to treat a burn blister. “Any blisters that form should be covered with antibiotic ointment and non-stick dressings that are changed once or twice a day,” advises Dr. Batra. “Because second-degree burns can cause open wounds, refrain from using cotton balls or anything that can leave fibers in the affected area and increase the risk of infection.”

As it heals, you might want to see a doctor to test for severity and to prescribe antibiotics, just to be on the safe side.

Second-degree burns usually heal in about three weeks, but can vary depending on how deep the burn is, she says. Second-degree burns affect both the epidermis and dermis, and these may scar if the burn is deep enough, says Dr. Batra.

What’s more, people with olive-tone or pigmented skin are more likely to have lasting discoloration after a burn, as inflammation tends to alter pigment production in darker skin types, she explains. The scarring will improve gradually, though. “Remember that all wounds continue to remodel, and scars improve for 6-12 months after the injury,” she says.

Use strict sun protection on the healing site for a month after the burn to help minimize the risk of pigment change. “If the texture remains firm or raised, silicone-based gels or sheeting may help soften the scar,” adds Dr. Batra.

RELATED: How to Care for Your Sensitive Skin

How to treat a third-degree burn

A third-degree burn is the most severe and deepest of the three types, causing the skin to turn dark brown in color and thicken greatly, sometimes taking on a white, waxy, leathery appearance, explains Dr. Batra.

“Third-degree burns can cause serious wounds and have long-term consequences; as such, if you suspect you have a third-degree burn, call 911 immediately,” warns Dr. Batra. “While awaiting medical attention, raise the injury above your heart and refrain from treating it on your own,” she advises, the latter to avoid an infection.

A third-degree burn can result in shock, so monitor the person’s breathing and pulse rate. If you suspect they’re going into shock, lay the person flat, elevate their feet while keeping the burned area elevated if possible, and cover the person with a blanket.

“Blankets and radiant warmers are useful to help conserve heat and to lower risk of shock,” says Robert Glatter, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwell Health and attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Third-degree burns can vary greatly in healing time due to the severity of the burn, explains Dr. Batra. “Sometimes skin grafting may be required, which is when a piece of unburned skin is surgically removed from elsewhere and then moved to cover the burned area,” she says.

“Other problems caused by a severe third-degree burn can affect deep skin tissue, bones, and organs, which may need to be treated with surgery, physical therapy, or rehabilitation,” she adds.

Unfortunately, third-degree burns will scar. “Third-degree burns affect all layers of skin. Due to the extent of the damage to tissue and nerve endings, these burns will scar,” says Dr. Batra. “As the dead skin cells begin to regenerate, they will often create an area of thickened, red, shiny skin, and a skin graft may be needed to cover the burned area.”

When to see a doctor

If there are subsequent signs of infection, like oozing, swelling, or a fever, the best thing to do is check in with your doctor or urgent care facility, rather than relying on burn remedies that can be done at home or waiting it out.

And if the affected person hasn’t had a tetanus shot in years, they need to get one. “All burns to the skin are tetanus-prone, and must be treated as such. A tetanus shot is given every 7-10 years,” explains Dr. Glatter.

If the pain worsens, or the burn blister is larger than two inches, you should seek medical attention. “Burns involving more than 20%-25% of the total body surface area require IV fluid resuscitation,” says Dr. Glatter. That’s because burns are a thermal injury that can result in fluid loss, and that may lead to dehydration—which can be dangerous, he adds.

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5 Effective Home Remedies For Mild Burns

Let’s admit that burns of all kinds, minor or severe, are nasty and painful. But they happen to be one of the most common household injuries. Especially while cooking or baking, unpleasant burn injuries can often give one a tough time. Then there are severe burns which can be caused by direct contact with fire or a heated object. In medical terminology, burns are classified as per their severity. The first-degree burn which affects only the outer layer of skin are considered to be the least severe as compared to the second or third degree where it affects deeper layers of the skin, cause blisters or damage all layers of skin deep within. The third degree burns are considered medical emergencies and should only be treated in a hospital. Mild burns, on the other hand, can be treated at home with some effective home remedies. Burns take about two to three weeks to heal completely if treated properly and attended to immediately.

Here are some home remedies to treat mild burns, reduce pain, prevent infections, and heal the skin faster.

1. Cool water and compress
The basic first aid after any minor burn is to run cool water over the burn area for about 15 to 20 minutes and then wash the affected area with mild soap and water. Apply an ointment ony after you are through with this step. For a better relief prepare a cold compress with a clean wet cloth and place it over the burn area. This might help the pain and swelling. Press it against the affected area in the interval of 10 to 15 minutes. Never use ice water on your burns. Ice or ice water can restrict blood flow to the skin, and can cause further damage to the tissue.

The basic first aid after any minor burn is to run cool water over the burn area

2. Aloe veraAnother addition to aloe-vera’s long list of benefits. Aloe vera can also be used to treat first degree burns. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera makes it an excellent healer. It also promotes circulation around the burn, which further restricts the growth of bacteria in that area, thus preventing any chance of countering infections. For best results, apply a layer of pure aloe-vera gel taken from the leaf of an aloe-vera plant on to the affected area. If you are applying store bought aloe vera products make sure it contains high concentration of aloe-vera.

Aloe vera can also be used to treat first degree burns

3. Honey
Honey with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can also help heal minor burns. Take cotton swab or a towel dip it in a teaspoon of honey and massage gently for effective results. While it hasn’t been proven yet; however, most households are believed to bring honey in to use as quick home remedy for mild burns. The healthful properties of honey can somewhat help in reducing the pain and burning sensation.
(Also Read: 7 Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Mouth Ulcers)

Honey with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can also help heal minor burns

4. Coconut oil
One of the traditional remedies for burns, coconut oil is packed with vitamin E. Vitamin E not only treats the burn but also heals the skin. For the post burn mark on your skin, you can mix half a teaspoon of lemon juice to a teaspoon of coconut oil and massage on the mark. The acidic properties present in lemon juice would help lighten the mark. Coconut oil is also packed with many anti-fungal properties which can further prevent any infection over the burn.
(Also Read: 7 Ways To Use Coconut Oil For Face For A Beauty Boost)

Coconut oil is packed with vitamin E

5. Vinegar
The healing properties of acetic acid in vinegar can help relieve pain, itching and inflammation that comes along with the vinegar. The vinegar also pulls heat from the burn, thereby nulling the pain naturally. Take a cotton swab dip it in a teaspoon of vinegar and dab on the burnt area gently for the desired effect. The astringent properties of vinegar will also keep you burn from becoming infected.

The healing properties of acetic acid in vinegar can help relieve pain

As they say, prevention is better than cure, it is always advisable to ensure extra care if one is handling task that can lead to a severe burn. In case the pain of the burn is too much, it is recommended to rush to a hospital at the earliest. For milder burns – the sort we often get when in the Kitchen – try these home remedies for relief.

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

Burns: how to treat

Classification of burns

A burn is an injury to the body’s tissue resulting from heat, chemicals, electricity or sunlight. A scald is a type of burn caused by steam or hot liquid.

The severity of a burn depends on the amount of tissue affected and the depth of the injury. Burns are often classified as:

  • first degree (those causing damage to the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis);
  • second degree (causing deeper damage to the dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis); or
  • third degree (those causing the deepest and most severe damage — destruction of all layers of the skin and damage to tissues underneath).

How do you treat burns?

If a burn has any of the following features, treat it as a severe burn and get immediate medical help.

  • Redness that involves major joints or the face, hands, feet, genitals or buttocks.
  • Blistering or very red blotchy skin that covers an area larger than a 20 cent coin or involving major joints or the face, hands, feet, genitals or buttocks.
  • Blackened or dry, white areas (these indicate third degree burns).

Safely approaching a person with severe burns

Firstly, make sure that you, others and the affected person are not in further danger.

If the person’s clothes are on fire, they should be wrapped in a non-synthetic blanket, coat or rug and rolled on the ground to smother the flames (‘stop, drop and roll’).

For electrical burns, switch off the power source if possible and remove the person from the electrical supply without touching them (use something dry and non-conductive like a wooden broom handle).

First aid for an unconscious person with severe burns

Does the person respond to your voice or to a gentle squeeze of their shoulders? If they do not, they are unconscious.

Have someone phone 000 for an ambulance.

Check their airway and breathing before proceeding further — they may need cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

First aid for a conscious person with severe burns

For a conscious person with severe burns, the following steps should be taken.

  • Make sure someone has dialled 000 for an ambulance.
  • Lie the person down, preferably on a rug or sheet to prevent the burned area from touching the ground.
  • DO NOT immerse an extensive burn in cold water; this may cause the person to go into shock.
  • For smaller burns, wash and cool the area under cold running water until the skin returns to normal temperature (up to 20 minutes for a thermal burn, at least 20 minutes for a chemical burn or 30 minutes for a bitumen burn). If this is not possible apply a cold-water compress. Do not use iced water as this can worsen the injury.
  • DO NOT over-cool the person, especially if they are young or if the burn covers a large area.
  • If possible, remove rings, watch or constricting clothing before the area starts to swell. Remove clothing soaked in boiling liquid or contaminated with chemicals, without contaminating yourself.
  • DO NOT remove clothing or anything that is sticking to the burn. It helps to protect against infection and prevent fluid loss.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-stick material, such as a freshly washed pillowcase. Fix it in place with a scarf or a piece of clean cloth. Clean plastic cling wrap can be a useful dressing.
  • For burns to the face, make a mask from a clean pillowcase by cutting holes for the nose, mouth and eyes.
  • DO NOT use adhesive dressings, apply fat, ointment or lotion, break a blister or touch a burn.

First aid for minor burns

The majority of burns are minor and can be treated at home or in a doctor’s clinic.

  • If possible, remove jewellery and clothing from around the injury.
  • If the burn is very painful, it is probably superficial. You must act quickly to reduce further injury to the skin. Immediately cool the area under cold running water until the skin returns to normal temperature (up to 20 minutes for a thermal burn, at least 20 minutes for a chemical burn or 30 minutes for a bitumen burn). If this is not possible apply a cold-water compress. Do not use iced water as this can worsen the injury.
  • Cover the burn with clean, sterile (if possible), non-stick material.
  • For localised burns, cold water compresses changed frequently can be useful.
  • DO NOT use adhesive dressings, apply fat, ointment or lotions, break a blister or touch a burn.
  • If the burn is larger than a 20 cent coin, see your doctor or go to the emergency department of your local hospital.

How do you know if a burn victim should be hospitalised?

A person who is burned over a large area of the body (for example, the arm, thigh or chest) is likely to suffer shock and needs urgent hospitalisation.

Hospitalisation is also likely to be needed in the following situations:

  • electrical or chemical burns;
  • burns of the face, hands, genitals, feet or airway;
  • it will be difficult to care for the wound adequately at home;
  • the person is under 2 or over 50 years old;
  • some third degree (full thickness) burns (the area will be white or charred but the person may not feel much pain if the nerves are destroyed); or
  • the person has another serious medical condition such as diabetes.

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Last Reviewed: 13/02/2013



Burns and scalds

First aid for burns

  • Stop the burning process as soon as possible. This may mean removing the person from the area, dousing flames with water, or smothering flames with a blanket. Do not put yourself at risk of getting burnt as well.
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area of skin, including babies’ nappies. But do not try to remove anything that’s stuck to the burnt skin, as this could cause more damage.
  • Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes as soon as possible after the injury. Never use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances like butter.
  • Keep yourself or the person warm. Use a blanket or layers of clothing, but avoid putting them on the injured area. Keeping warm will prevent hypothermia, where a person’s body temperature drops below 35C (95F). This is a risk if you’re cooling a large burnt area, particularly in young children and elderly people.
  • Cover the burn with cling film. Put the cling film in a layer over the burn, rather than wrapping it around a limb. A clean clear plastic bag can be used for burns on your hand.
  • Treat the pain from a burn with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions when using over-the-counter medication. Children under 16 years of age should not be given aspirin.
  • Sit upright as much as possible if the face or eyes are burnt. Avoid lying down for as long as possible, as this will help reduce swelling.

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What is a partial-thickness burn?

Partial-thickness burns are more serious than superficial (first-degree) burns because a deeper layer of skin is burned. They are more painful, and they can get infected more easily. Also, if the burn affects more than 10% of your body, you may go into shock because you can lose a lot of fluid from the burned area.

Partial-thickness burns affect a deeper layer of skin, but they don’t damage muscle or bone. They are also sometimes called second-degree burns.

All partial-thickness burns more than 2 to 3 inches wide should be treated by your healthcare provider. Smaller burns can usually be treated at home.

What causes a partial-thickness burn?

Partial-thickness burns are usually caused by:

  • Overexposure to the sun
  • Contact with a hot object, such as an iron or skillet
  • Contact with hot liquids or steam
  • Exposure to flames
  • Burning gasoline or kerosene
  • Contact with harsh chemicals
  • Contact with electricity

What are the symptoms?

The skin is bright red and has 1 or more blisters. The blisters usually turn white. The blisters may break open. They may leak fluid, making the skin look wet. The area may also look blotchy, with some areas redder than others. The burn is usually very painful and there may be some swelling. With larger burns, you may have nausea or headache.

How is it treated?

The goals of treatment for partial-thickness burns are easing the pain and preventing infection.

For burns with closed blisters:

  • Flush the burn with cool running water or put cold moist cloths on the burn until there is less pain. Don’t use ice or ice water, which can cause more damage to the skin.
  • Remove jewelry or tight clothing from the burned area right away before the skin begins to swell. If you cannot do this, emergency rooms have special tools for removing jewelry or clothing.
  • Try not to break the blisters. If the blisters break, it’s easier for the burn to get infected.

For burns with open blisters:

  • Don’t remove clothing if it is stuck to the burn.
  • Run cool water over the burn unless the burn is several inches in size. Running water over a large burn might increase the risk of shock.

For chemical burns, follow these first-aid steps while making sure to avoid more contact with the chemical:

  • Immediately remove any clothing and jewelry on which the chemical has spilled.
  • Flush liquid chemicals from the skin thoroughly with running water for at least 15 minutes. Be sure to avoid splashing the chemical in your eyes. After flushing, call the Poison Control Center for advice about the specific chemical that burned you, or have someone else call while you are rinsing off the chemical. It helps to have the chemical container with you when you make the call to make sure you give the correct name for the chemical.
  • Brush dry chemicals off the skin if large amounts of water are not available. Small amounts of water will activate some chemicals, such as lime, and cause more damage, so keep dry chemicals dry unless very large amounts of water are available. Be careful not to get any chemicals in the eyes.
  • Don’t try to neutralize a chemical. For example, putting an alkali chemical onto skin that has been exposed to an acid will often produce a large amount of heat and may increase the burning.
  • Once all of the chemical has been removed, cover the burn with a sterile or clean, loose, dry bandage and get medical care.

For electrical burns:

  • All electrical burns must be examined promptly by a healthcare provider. An electrical burn may seem to have caused just minor damage, but it can go deep into tissues under the skin. The damage may not be obvious for several hours or even until the next day. Delayed treatment can cause more damage.
  • Cover the area of the burn with a clean (sterile, if possible), dry bandage, such as a gauze pad. Wrap it loosely. Don’t put any ointments or other substances on the burned area.

For all partial-thickness burns:

  • You don’t need to cover the burn or blisters unless clothing or something else is rubbing against them. If you need to cover blisters, put on a clean, dry, loose bandage. Make sure that the tape or adhesive does not touch the burn. Avoid wearing clothes or shoes or doing activities that rub or irritate the blisters until they have healed. Don’t wrap tape completely around a hand, arm, foot, or leg. This could interfere with blood flow to the area and cause more swelling after you put the tape on.
  • Don’t put grease, petroleum jelly, butter, or home remedies on the burn because they can make it hard for the burn to heal properly and may increase the risk of infection. Don’t put any ointment on the burn unless you are instructed to do so by your healthcare provider.
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation, or take acetaminophen to relieve pain.
    • Check with your healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto-Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, don’t take for more than 10 days for any reason.
  • Keep burned arms or legs propped up higher than your heart as much as possible for the first day or 2. This will help reduce pain and swelling.

Call your healthcare provider right away for burns that are more than 2 to 3 inches wide, especially if they are on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a big joint, like your knee or shoulder. Medical care may include:

  • Extra fluids to replace the fluid your body is losing through the burned area. Your healthcare provider may give you fluids intravenously (through a tube into your vein).
  • Antibiotics because the burned skin can no longer protect your body from infection by bacteria that may get on your skin
  • Lightly bandaging the burned area with an antibacterial dressing or leaving it unbandaged, depending on the size of the burn and where it is
  • Medicine prescribed to kill the pain
  • A tetanus shot to prevent tetanus infection
  • Later, a skin graft so there is less scarring

How do I keep taking care of a burn?

  • When you clean the burned area, wash it gently with mild soap and warm water. Don’t use deodorant soap.
  • Check for any changes or signs of infection, like pus, swelling, or increased redness.
  • If your provider recommended using an antibiotic ointment, use a clean cotton swab to put a thin layer of the ointment on the burn. Don’t touch the tube of antibiotic cream to the burned area. If you need more cream or ointment, use a new cotton swab.
  • If you need to cover the burn, cover it with a sterile nonstick bandage.


  • Protect the burn from pressure and friction.
  • Don’t bump the burned area. Try to use it less than you normally would. This can help it heal.
  • Drink enough water or juice to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid exposure to sun and to extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Call your healthcare provider if your burn is not getting better after 2 to 3 days or you have any of the following:

  • Fever over 101.5°F (38.6°C)
  • Worsening redness of the skin
  • A lot more swelling of the burned area
  • Pain that is getting worse
  • Puslike drainage from the burned area
  • A blister filled with greenish or brownish fluid or one that becomes hot again or turns red

How long will the effects last?

Usually, partial-thickness burns heal in 10 days to 2 weeks. Large burns may take 3 to 4 weeks to heal. There may be little or no scarring if the burn was not too extensive and if infection is prevented. Do remember that blistering sunburns can cause skin cancer (melanoma) later in life.

How can I help prevent burns?

Some examples of things you can do to help prevent burns are:

  • Turn your water heater setting down to 120°F (49°C).
  • Keep pot handles turned away from the stove front.
  • When you are outdoors, always use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater and wear protective clothing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It’s best to put the sunscreen on your skin 30 to 60 minutes before you go out into the sun. Avoid being out in the sun for a long time, especially in the late morning and early afternoon.

How to Treat a Burn

You and your family are exposed to burn risks every day. Between curling irons, hot coffee, ironing clothes and cooking in the kitchen, burns are a very real possibility.

First Aid for Burns

If you or a family member suffers a burn, there are some immediate steps you can take to ensure proper care is received. First, treat every burn like a major burn until you can determine otherwise. You should calm and reassure the person who has been burned. Next, you’ll want to address the following:

Remove Clothing and Accessories

Remove any clothing or tightly fitting accessories like wedding rings from the areas around the burn. If clothing is stuck in the burn, do not attempt to remove it.

Cool the Burn

If possible, run the burn under cool, not cold, water for 10 to 15 minutes. If this not possible, apply a cool, clean wet cloth to the burn. Do NOT use ice.

Assess the Burn

You should assess the burn to determine if it is superficial or more severe. You may be able to treat a superficial burn at home, but a more severe burn will require medical treatment.

Do You Need Medical Attention?

What if the burn is big? What if it’s more than red and a little swollen? How do you know when to seek medical attention? Here are four questions to help you determine if your burn requires medical treatment.

1) Where Is It Located?

Any burn to the face, eyes, ears, hands, feet or genitals should be treated in an emergency room. If the burn is more than just superficial tissue damage, you should also head to the ER.

2) How Deep Is The Burn?

Superficial burns, like sunburns, are commonly red and painful. They’ll blister 24 hours after the initial burn. If it’s a superficial burn, immediate medical care might not be necessary. If you or your child suffers a minor burn, it will appear red, a little swollen, and it will turn white when you press on the skin. A minor burn is painful – soothe the pain by cooling the burn under cool, not cold, running water for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also apply a clean towel dampened with cool water to the burn.

But if the burn is deeper, blisters will appear soon after the injury. Very deep burns are typically non-painful and cause blotchy skin discoloration that looks gray or whitish. Seek immediate medical care for this kind of burn.

3) How big is the Burn?

If your burn covers a large area of skin, a bigger area than the size of your palm, seek medical treatment. Larger burns, depending on where they’re located, can impair function. If you have a large burn on your foot and it’s preventing you from comfortably wearing shoes, don’t delay seeking treatment.

4) Are you up-to-date on your vaccinations?

All burns are tetanus prime, if you have not received a tetanus show within the last 5-10 years then you will need to get a booster and if you never have been immunized then you need to get a tetanus shot.

5) Is It Infected?

If a burn looks like it’s developing an infection, you need to go to the emergency department. The key signs of an infection include increasing pain, redness, drainage, swelling and odor.

Any size burn, minor or serious, can develop an infection. Because of that, it’s important to make sure your burn is kept clean and dry as well as covered with a clean bandage or sterile dressings and antibiotic ointment.

Home Remedies for Burn

If you have a minor burn, running cool water over the burn and keeping it cool with aloe is appropriate. However, if the burn in more serious, home remedies will only delay you from receiving proper medical care for your wound, which can significantly increase your risk of infection.

Identifying Burn Severity

The severity of a burn is based on how much skin is damaged, measuring the surface area and depth of the burn. However, it can be complicated to assess whether a burn is critical and needs professional treatment.

First-Degree Burns

Small first-degree burns and sometimes second-degree burns don’t need to be treated by a healthcare provider. A first-degree burn is characterized as the least serious type of burn, involving only the outer layer of skin. This type of burn may cause pain, swelling and redness.

In the event that you suffer a first-degree burn, soak the burn in cool water for about 5 minutes – this helps reduce swelling by pulling the heat away from burned skin. Then, treat the skin with Aloe Vera or antibiotic ointment and wrap it loosely in a dry gauze bandage. An over-the-counter pain reliever can also help with the pain and swelling.

Second-Degree Burns

A second-degree burn is more serious, causing red, white or splotchy skin, swelling, pain and blisters. If you suffer a small second-degree burn that is no larger than 3 inches, you can follow the same course of self-treatment, but just holding the burn in cool water for about 15 minutes. However, if the burned area is larger or covers the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint, treat it as a major burn and seek immediate medical treatment.

Third-Degree Burns

A third-degree burn is the most serious type of burn and requires a call to 911 and immediate medical treatment. This type of burn involves all layers of skin and underlying fat, sometimes even affecting muscle and bone. Someone suffering a third-degree burn needs to go to the hospital right away. Don’t take off any clothing stuck to the burn and don’t soak the burn in water or apply ointment.

The skin affected by a third-degree burn may appear dry and leathery or look black, white, brown or yellow. This skin will also swell. In some cases of third-degree burns, the victim may not feel pain because the nerve endings have been destroyed.

A third-degree burn victim may also experience difficulty breathing, carbon monoxide poisoning or other toxic effects if smoke inhalation occurred in addition to the burn. These complicating factors make it even more crucial to get to the hospital right away.

Minor Burn Symptoms and Treatment

Second-degree burns can be caused by contact with hot oil, grease, soup, or microwaved liquids. In rare cases, sun exposure can also cause second-degree burns. A second-degree burn means that the deep skin layers and nerve endings have been damaged. There are two types of second-degree burns:

  • Superficial partial-thickness burns injure the first and second layers of skin and are often caused by hot water or hot objects. The skin around the burn turns white (blanches) when pressed, and then turns back to red. The burn is moist and painful with blistering and swelling that usually lasts for at least 48-72 hours.
  • Deep partial-thickness burns injure deeper skin layers and are white with red areas. These are often caused by contact with hot oil, grease, soup, or microwaved liquids. This kind of burn is not as painful, but it can cause a pressure sensation. The skin looks spotted, remains white when pressed, may appear waxy in some areas, and is dry or slightly moist. Risk of infection is an important concern with these burns.

Immediately following this type of burn, you can submerge the burned area in cool (not cold) water, and take aspirin or acetaminophen to help alleviate pain. Loosely wrap the burn in sterile gauze if available, but do not apply ice or ointments to the burned skin unless directed by a medical professional.

Due to the risk of infection, it is recommended that you seek medical attention for any second-degree burns, especially those larger than three inches, or for any burns located on the hands, feet, face, groin, or buttocks, or over a major joint.

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