Home Treatment For Burns
Burns are among the most common household injuries that can happen at almost any time.
And there can be several causes of burns at home, such as spilling hot water or oil, using appliances like microwaves incorrectly, or even getting scalded by open fires. As expected, burns, like other cuts and bruises, are common among children and the commonly burned areas can include hands, fingers, and the face.
But the good news is that you can easily treat most minor burns easily at home, including second-degree burns. As such, there are several household items that you can use to get quick relief. But keep in mind that it is always recommended to consult with a doctor before trying out such home remedies.
That said, let’s take a look at some of these methods.
Types Of Burns
Most of the treatment options we’ve mentioned here can be used for up to second-degree burns, but many people find it hard to differentiate between different types of burns. So, let’s take a look at them before learning about the remedies.
1. First-Degree Burns
First-degree burns, also called superficial burns, are those that cause minimal skin damage, mild pain and only affect the outermost layer of the skin. Signs of a first-degree burn include:
- Minor inflammation or swelling
- Dry, peeling skin
You can treat most first-degree burns easily using home treatment methods which can also speed up the healing process. Since these burns only affect the topmost layer without reaching the deeper layers of skin, all symptoms and signs disappear when new skin cells replace the old ones. And such burns heal quickly, usually within seven to ten days, without leaving behind any scars.
However, it is recommended to visit a doctor if the burn affects your face or if the burned skin is larger than three inches. This is also true if the burn affects any major joints like the ankle, foot, shoulder, knee, elbow, and forearm.
2. Second-Degree Burns
A second-degree burn is more serious than a first-degree one as the damage goes beyond the outer thin layer of the skin. This type of burn generally makes the skin red and sore and causes blisters. These blisters may pop open at times, giving them a wet appearance and leading to the formation of thick, scab-like tissue which is called a fibrinous exudate .
In second-degree burns, it is crucial to keep the area clean and take measures like bandaging the area to prevent infections. While this can help speed up the healing process, such burns take longer to heal, usually over three weeks. Even if it heals within two weeks, there may be pigment-related changes on the skin with minimal or no scarring.
The time taken for healing depends upon the blisters- the worse they are, the longer it will take the burn injury to heal. In very serious cases, skin grafting may be required, which involves taking healthy skin from another body area and attaching it to the burned area.
Again, you can treat second-degree burns using home remedies, but again, seek immediate medical attention if the burn affects a large area. These can include the face, hands, buttocks, groin, and feet.
3. Third-Degree burns
Third degree burns are only next to fourth-degree ones in terms of severity and can cause extensive damage that penetrates through all skin layers. Contrary to common perception they are the most painful ones, in many cases, you might feel little or no pain due to nerve damage. The most common symptoms of third-degree burns include:
- White and waxy skin
- Charred skin
- Dark brown skin color
- Leathery skin texture
- Blisters that are not developed
Though these wounds can heal without surgery, they can cause contracture and severe scarring. Additionally, there is no set deadline by which they will heal and it is not recommended to treat a third-degree burn on your own. So, seek medical attention without any delay.
While waiting for the medical services to arrive, try to raise the burn wound above the heart level to reduce blood flow.
4. Fourth-Degree Burns
Fourth-degree burns are the highest level of burns and are potentially life-threatening since they affect all levels of skin, muscles, and bones. A fourth-degree burn is not as common as the first three levels of burns. But the damage will invariably extend to the nerves, which is why you do not feel any pain.
Fourth-degree burns are considered a medical emergency and require immediate treatment. In such cases, home remedies are completely ineffective and should be avoided. Instead, you should contact emergency services and get medical attention quickly.
Best Home Remedies For Burns
1. Cold Water
The most obvious treatment for minor burns is the application of very cold water on the outer layer of skin, which can provide instant relief from the stinging sensation. An alternative to using cold water is applying cold presses that can also reduce pain and reduce swelling. However, there is a clear distinction between using cold water and ice water or ice. Avoid using the latter as that can cause damage to various body tissues.
Let the cold water run over the burned skin for about 10 to 15 minutes. Follow this with the application of a cold compress on the area to reduce the pain. Repeat this process several times a day to speed up the healing process and help alleviate the pain.
2. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera, often called the “burn plant,” makes for an excellent home remedy. You can treat both first-degree and second-degree burns using aloe vera due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. To apply the aloe vera gel to a burn, clean the area using water and wash your hands before application to prevent dirt from infecting the blisters.
You can either use aloe vera creams available at the local pharmacy or source pure aloe vera gel from the leaf of the aloe vera plant. However, if you choose to apply an aloe vera cream, go with an option that has a high percentage of aloe vera instead of artificial coloring or other additives.
It is common knowledge that honey is among the most nutritional natural substances that offers several other benefits. Its antibacterial property, in particular, makes it a great natural disinfectant for preventing bacterial infections. You can use it to clean and treat second-degree burns effectively. And there are two methods to do this.
The first is by gently applying honey over the affected area and then rinsing it after a few minutes. Or, you can use the other method, which involves spreading the honey on a gauze pad and applying the pad to the burned skin. It will prevent you from touching the burn wounds with bare hands, preventing infections. Again, follow the rinsing process after application.
4. Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar
Cider vinegar is a highly versatile substance that offers several uses, one of them being a burn treatment. It has antiseptic properties that prevent infection in the case of minor burns and also helps soothe the pain while reducing skin inflammation.
- 50 ml of filtered water
- Few drops of apple cider vinegar
Fill a clean glass bowl with 50 ml of filtered water and the cider vinegar and mix properly. Then, use a clean cotton ball to wipe the burned skin with the solution and leave it for a few minutes before reapplication.
Not many people know that milk, just like water, can be used as an effective home remedy for treating burns. It acts as a pain reliever and accelerates the healing process due to its fat content. You can either use a milk-soaked cloth to cover the burn injuries for about 15 minutes or soak the burn area in a bowl of milk.
Wait for about 24 hours before washing the area with soap and water, and make sure to keep the wound clean and dry by covering it with a bandage.
6. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another common household item that can be used for dealing with second-degree burns. It is most effective if the burn has occurred from an oven or a flat iron. All you need to do is mix it with a little water to form a thick paste.
After application, it will provide a cooling sensation to the burned area, and you can repeat the process after rinsing the area with water once the paste dries up. Applying baking soda can also help minimize scarring.
7. Egg Whites
Uncooked egg whites carry several nutrients, including collagen, which can accelerate the healing and regeneration processes, leaving behind new, shiny skin. Separate the yolk from the egg whites in a bowl, dip a clean cotton ball and apply it on the burned skin. Wait for it to dry slightly before repeating this step.
Continue this process and apply multiple layers till the burning sensation or redness reduces but do not use this method for broken skin or open wounds, as that can cause a salmonella infection. 
Toothpaste is highly effective in preventing the formation of blisters and there’s a good chance that you will always have some in the bathroom cupboard. Additionally, it helps relieve pain by making the skin cooler and preventing the burning sensation. Apply toothpaste directly to the burn and leave it overnight before rinsing the area gently with water next morning.
9. Black Tea Bags
Black tea bags contain tannic acid, a polyphenol  that effectively draws out the heat from burn injuries and reduces inflammation, thereby reducing pain.
Place three to four tea bags under running water and collect the tea that comes out from them in a glass bowl. Then use a cotton ball to apply it to the burn and leave for a few minutes before removing the excess liquid from the area using another cotton ball.
10. Over The Counter Pain Relievers
You can consider taking an OTC (Over the Counter) pain reliever like naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). But when taking such medications, make sure to read the label to avoid any side effects. While not strictly a home remedy, such pain relievers are available in most households or can easily be procured from the local drug store.
11. Vanilla Extract
Not only can vanilla extract make your bakes smell delicious, but it can also treat a minor burn by rendering a cooling sensation on the skin when it evaporates post-application. Pour the extract into a small bowl or cup and use a cotton swab to apply it to the burned skin. Besides, it may take away some of the pain.
12. White Vinegar
White vinegar contains acetic acid,  which can help relieve pain, itching, and inflammation caused by a burn. It is also antiseptic and astringent and can help prevent infections while drawing heat from the burn and reducing the pain.
To apply, use clean cotton swabs dipped in diluted vinegar and dab the burn gently, or soak paper towels in it to create a soothing compress.
13. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E, which can help speed up the healing process of the skin. It also contains fatty acids that are antibacterial and antifungal and can prevent the burn from becoming infected. Furthermore, you can mix a little lemon juice in it to remove burn marks since the acidic properties of the juice can help lighten the skin.
14. Lavender Oil
Lavender is an excellent burn healer and has pain-relieving properties and can reduce inflammation by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Hence, these benefits can help speed up the wound healing process, making it ideal for treating burns.
However, you will need to prepare the lavender oil properly before it can be applied to the burn.
- One tablespoon of pure lavender essential oil
- Two ounces of water
Mix the lavender essential oil with water in a misting bottle and shake well. Then, spray it on the skin lightly as required. Repeat the process at fixed intervals to get the best results.
15. Plastic Wrap
This is one of the lesser-known home remedies, but that does not mean it is ineffective. Plastic wrap helps protect exposed nerve endings, thereby reducing pain during treatment. It also retains the right amount of moisture, which can speed up the healing process. However, we’d suggest putting it in layers on the burn instead of wrapping it.
You can also use a transparent plastic bag for burns on the hands, but make sure it is completely clean to reduce the risk of infection.
Calendula is a flower with anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to treat burns. It is often used in various salves, creams, and ointments due to its soothing properties. You can use a calendula salve on the burn area after properly washing and cleaning the wound.
Home Remedies To Avoid
Besides these first aid practices that can help prevent infections and speed up the healing process, there are other remedies that you might come across for burn treatment. However, some of them can be ineffective and, in some cases, can even worsen the situation.
1. Applying Ice
Many people go for the application of ice to skin burns instead of cool water, especially if it is caused by spillage of a hot liquid. But ice can make the burn worse as it can irritate the already burning skin, and you may even experience a cold burn post application.
2. Using Butter
Butter is another commonly used item for burn wound healing but, in reality, can make the problem worse. This is because butter retains heat to slow down its release from the skin, which causes more pain.
Some Useful Tips
The above remedies can help you treat low-level burns available at home. However, to make the process easier, you should keep these tips in mind while treating a burn.
1. Remove Any Constrictive Clothing Or Accessories
If possible, try to remove any item of clothing covering the burned area, but do so gently without touching the wound. Since burned skin tends to swell, it is important to perform this activity quickly before the skin touches the clothing, which can cause discomfort and even lead to infections. In case of burns on areas like the fingers, remove accessories and jewelry items like rings.
2. Do Not Pop The Blisters
Blisters are commonplace in case of second-degree or higher burns, but they aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
In actuality, these are fluid-filled globules that protect against infections, and popping them will reduce this protection, so avoid doing that. However, if a blister breaks accidentally, clean the area with water and mild soap and apply an antibiotic ointment.
3. Bandage The Burn
After cleaning the burn and using your preferred first aid method, use a sterile gauze bandage to cover the wound. This will protect the blistered skin and also help reduce pain. Avoid using a cotton bandage since cotton fibers can get trapped in the wound and may cause an infection. Some people may even have an allergic reaction to cotton.
4. Look For Signs Of Infection
While low-level burns will heal in a couple of weeks, you should always be on the lookout for signs of infection, which can worsen the burn and adversely affect the healing process. In some cases, it can even increase the intensity of the burn, which is why detecting it in time is essential.
5. Protect The Burn From The Sun
After the burn has healed, it is vital to protect the area from the sun to avoid sunburns. And depending on the level of the burn, the burned skin can remain sensitive to the sun for up to a year.
Even the slightest exposure to sun can lead to intense redness and even cause scarring, so consider wearing protective clothing or applying sunscreen over the area for protection.
6. Consider A Tetanus Shot
Medical experts recommend  getting a tetanus booster once every ten years, so make sure to check that you’re keeping up. In case it has been over ten years since you last had a tetanus shot, get one immediately as it can prevent infections that can occur after a burn injury.
When To See A Doctor
While the above traditional remedies work well for most minor burns, there may be situations in which they might be completely ineffective. For instance, the burned area might worsen even after using different home remedies, with first-degree burns turning into second-degree ones.
When this happens, the skin will start showing signs of more severe damage after a few hours. And in such cases, calling a medical professional is the only option.
Similarly, a second-degree burn may not show any signs of improvement even after using various treatments. Finally, as already mentioned, third and fourth-degree burns require immediate medical attention.
Time is of essence for treating burns, and the longer you wait, the worse the problem can get. Hence, home remedies like the ones mentioned above can heal or at least initiate the healing process before you get expert treatment.
Moreover, timely action can provide relief from the pain, help prevent infections, and ensure that the problem does not get worse. However, we’d strongly recommend getting the burn or the superficially looking healed area checked by a doctor to ensure that there are no serious damages caused.
We will see you next time, but keep an eye on this area for more such reads. Till then, stay safe!