Kitchen mishaps, too much time in the sun, or even harsh household chemicals may cause us to experience a painful burn. Luckily, there are many actions we can take that may bring relief and promote healing. Some burns, however, are severe and will need medical attention. It’s essential to understand different degrees of burns and when home remedies for burns may be appropriate.
Types of Burns
Home remedies for burns fall into two categories, depending on the type of burn. The first category includes remedies that are intended to stop pain and promote healing; the other category involves attempting to control the damage until medical attention can be obtained.
A first degree burn falls into the first category of treatment. This kind of burn involves the top layer of skin called the epidermis, and symptoms include redness, pain and swelling. This layer of skin is the only layer that can regenerate, and burns to the epidermis seldom need medical attention. However, burns may increase in seriousness and medical attention should be sought if there is any doubt about its severity.
A second degree burn is more serious than a first degree burn, and extends into the layer of skin called the dermis. A burn to this area involves the sweat glands, collagen, hair follicles, and nerves, and symptoms include redness, pain, and blistering. Blistering may not occur immediately. Home remedies for burns of this type should focus on minimizing damage to the skin and controlling pain until medical attention can be obtained.
A third degree burn is very serious and medical attention should be sought immediately. Third degree burns involve the subcutaneous tissue and destroys not only skin, but blood vessels and nerves, so there may be little or no pain. The skin will appear charred or white and leathery, and permanent scarring is likely. Home remedies of burns should not be incorporated unless under the direction of emergency personnel.
The most common home remedy for burns is cool tap water. Because burns can worsen after initial exposure, the idea is to cool the area to prevent the burn from progressing. Cool water often brings immediate relief. However, many other household items may become home remedies for burns, and may bring both relief and healing:
- Vinegar-Vinegar is a common household ingredient and may help control the pain of a burn while promoting healing. A cloth is soaked with diluted vinegar and placed over the burn. Reapply if cloth becomes warm.
- Aloe Vera-Many people have an Aloe vera plant on hand in the event of a burn. If not, Aloe vera gels are stocked in many medicine cabinets. Either apply the prepared gel or the liquid from a section of the Aloe vera plant directly onto the burn. Reapply as needed for at least 24 hours.
- Honey-Honey has been found to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which may promote healing. After cooling the area with cool water, apply honey directly to wound and wrap with plastic or cloth, leave in place for 24 hours.
Some home remedies for burns may actually cause further damage and should be avoided.
- Butter-butter was once recommended as a home remedy, but could actually cause the burn to continue damaging the skin. Butter may also promote infection.
- Ointments-ointments are oil-based and may promote further damage to the burned skin.
While home remedies for burns may be acceptable for first degree burns, seek medical attention if burns cover large areas of the body, if there is any blistering to the skin, or if there is a charred appearance to the burn. If there is any doubt at all, contact your medical professional immediately.