Getting burned is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through them. Here are a few ways you can treat different levels of burns at home:
First-degree burns are the most common type of burn and the easiest to treat, especially at home. You may get a first-degree burn from accidentally touching a hot stovetop or a curling iron. First-degree burns only affect the top layers of the skin and are thus much easier to treat. As burns increase in intensity, treatment options become much more limited, and you may require professional aid.
The first step to treating a first-degree burn is to run the burned area under cool water. You can also soak the area in water or apply a cool compress for about ten minutes. When the burn no longer hurts, you can begin the following steps:
- Apply petroleum jelly or aloe vera to the burned area. This will keep the skin from drying out. Aloe vera will also help keep the burn cool.
- Putting a bandage over the burn can help protect it from external pressure.
- Using antibiotic ointment or honey can prevent the burn from getting infected.
- If you are in pain, consider taking over-the-counter pain medications to reduce pain and swelling.
When treating your burns, there are also a few home remedies that you’ll need to avoid. Since these treatments can increase the risk of infection and even make the burn worse, do not:
- Apply butter to the burn
- Apply oil on the burn
- Apply egg whites to the burn
- Use toothpaste to cool the burn
- Use ice or ice water directly on the burn
Second-degree burns are characterized by their damage to more than just the outer layer of the skin. Second-degree burns also affect the middle layer of the skin, known as the dermis. These burns take longer to heal than first-degree burns but can be treated at home nonetheless. However, if a second-degree burn covers large areas of the body or the joints, genitals, face, or hands, contact a doctor as soon as possible.
To treat a second-degree burn, begin by removing any clothing, jewelry, or other material on or around the burn. If you can’t remove clothing without damaging the skin, do not remove it. Next, you can begin to cool the burn with water, as you would a first-degree burn. As usual, do not use ice directly on the burn. From there, you can begin the next steps:
- Dress the burned area in light gauze or bandages to prevent extra damage.
- Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, especially around the burn.
- Contact your doctor when possible so that they can take a look at the burn as well. In some situations, they may recommend burn cream or other treatments.
Like first-degree burns, items like butter, oil, egg whites, and toothpaste are not safe forms of treatment. Popping any blisters that may come from the burn can lead to further infection and damage as well.
Unlike first and second-degree burns, third-degree burns are much more severe. Not only do these burns affect the first two layers of skin, but they can also damage fat, sweat glands, and hair follicles under the skin. Third-degree burns are also characterized by nerve damage-- you won’t feel a third-degree burn where the nerves are damaged. Instead, the pain will come from around the burn, where nerves are still working.
Third-degree burns are often life-threatening and thus must be treated by doctors using skin grafts. If you or someone around you gets a third-degree burn, call an ambulance immediately-- it can save a life.