Burns can come from a variety of sources. You can scald yourself on hot water, catch the rack in your oven with your arm when pulling a cake out, or touch a fireplace iron that has gotten too hot. This can cause a varying amount of burning, pain and discomfort.
The best treatment for a burn is to avoid getting burned in the first place, but of course that is easy to say after a burn has already happened. If you do find yourself becoming scalded or singed, the faster you start treatment on the burn the better it is for your skin and your comfort.
The majority of burns that you will receive around the house will be first and second degree burns. Usually not serious, these burn will cause blistering, pain, and redness and can be treated using traditional first aid methods. More serious burns, or those burns that cover a large portion of the body, will need to be treated by a doctor or emergency services. Here’s how you can treat minor burns at home to help prevent infection and limit the amount of pain you experience.
Start by cooling the burn off. Flushing with cool water for 20 to 30 minutes is the best way, though cool compresses can also be used. When you burn yourself, the heat from the original injury continues to penetrate the skin for several minutes, so cooling the area can help prevent further damage.
Many people are tempted to put salve or ointment on the burn right away, but it is better to wait for several hours first. This allows the burn to cool completely. Applying salve too soon traps the heat inside, worsening the burn. Ointment can be used after the burn has blistered to help keep the skin lubricated and to prevent pain. An antibiotic ointment is generally recommended to help keep the burn from becoming infected.
A mild burn can also be treated with aloe vera gel, though once again you should wait for several hours after the burn occurs so that the burn has time to cool. Applying the gel twice a day can help cool and heal the area. Look for clear gel instead of one that has been colored.
After cooling and treating the burn you will want to cover it to prevent further irritation and infection. A loose bandage is better than an adhesive one, or you can use a second skin product to treat small, minor burns. Change the bandage regularly and keep the burn area clean.
While it will not do anything to help relieve the pain of a burn, taking an extra vitamin C supplement with zinc can help your body to heal the burn faster. For most patients, 500 to 1000 mg of vitamin C and 25 to 50 mg of zinc. Do not take more zinc than that, as high levels of zinc can be toxic.
Even a minor burn can become infected, so watch the burn to make sure that it is healing properly. If the burn is still painful or has not started to heal after a few days, have your doctor look at it.