Treating Burns 101

Unfortunately, getting a first-degree burn is pretty common. They often occur from accidentally touching a hot stove, pot or pan, curling iron, or hair straightener. Sunburns can also be first-degree burns as well. The good news is that you can treat most burns at home with simple remedies to heal your skin and reduce pain and inflammation.

If you or someone has suffered a minor burn, follow these steps:


  1. Cool the burn. Immediately, immerse the burn in cool (not cold) tap water or apply a cool, wet compress until the pain eases. Do this for at least 10 minutes, or until pain subsides.
  2. Antibiotic ointment and/or aloe vera. Once the burn has completely cooled, apply either aloe vera or petroleum jelly to it. This will help prevent the wound from drying out and also provide soothing relief.
  3. Protect the burn. Using a non-stick/non-adhesive and sterile bandage, clean cloth or gauze, carefully wrap the wound to protect it. If blisters form, let them heal on their own – do not pop them.
  4. Take OTC medication. If you are still experiencing some pain or discomfort, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).

When to See a Doctor

Although some burns can be treated at home, there are circumstances in which you need to seek medical care. Go to the doctor/hospital if:

  • The wound shows signs of infection such as: increased pain, a fever, it smells, redness, swelling, or oozing
  • The burn includes the hands, face, buttocks, or groin area
  • The burn is more than 2-3 inches in diameter
  • The pain and redness gets worse and lasts more than a few hours
  • If you are due for a tetanus or booster shot – it is recommended that you get one every 10 years

Stay safe out there!

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