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Treating Minor Burns
Fast Facts

first degree burn

• Minor burns usually cause swelling and redness and are often painful.

• Experts advise to avoid using butter to treat the burn, but to lower the temperature by soaking it in cool, not cold, water.

• Pat the wound dry, and then apply aloe vera or an over-the-counter antibiotic cream, and cover with a bandage or dry gauze.

• If healing does not occur in a few days or infection is evident, see a doctor immediately.

Burns and scalds are one of the most common household injuries reported - most often due to hot oil, steam, or liquids, electrical or chemical burns - or simply as a result of lying in the sun too long out in the backyard resulting in a wicked sunburn.

Around the kitchen, the microwave oven is often another culprit — as it superheats foods and liquids that are not properly handled, resulting in occasionally painful and serious skin burns.

As they navigate their new world and discover its dangers, infants and toddlers are especially susceptible to burns from the kitchen or backyard barbecue, or from sticking small fingers into electrical outlets.

As they grow older, a fascination with matches, lighters, and the sparkle of fireworks may pose even greater harm and injury to both life and limb.

While some minor burns can be treated with skin creams, cocoa butter or aloe vera, more serious burns require a trip to the doctor. This may also include a round of antibiotics to help prevent infection from developing around damaged skin tissue.

Although a burn victim may suffer all categories at once depending on severity, burn wounds are commonly categorized as either first, second, or third degree.

First degree burns

First-degree burns are the most common, and only injure the top layer of skin. An application of cool water will immediately help reduce swelling. Pat dry, and cover the wound with a topical antibiotic ointment and a sterile dressing to aid in healing.

Second degree burns

Second-degree burns are recognized by multi-layer skin damage and blistering, accompanied by more severe pain and swelling. Initial first aid for these types of burns is similar to that of first degree burns. However, extra care should always be taken to avoid breaking blisters to avoid the spread of infection. A trip to the doctor for an antibiotic prescription for second degree burns is often recommended since infection may become life threatening if left untreated.

Third degree burns

Third-degree burns are the most serious, involving blackening of the skin, and damage to skin layers, nerves, and underlying tissue. Treatment for severe often calls for skin grafts (healthy skin taken from another part of the body to help the wound heal) and extensive long-term therapy.

More about burn treatment & first aid around the Web:

Around the Web, learn more about how to prevent and treat burns & scalds with expert advice on kid-proofing against common household burns, information on symptoms and treatment, pain management, first-aid instructions, with related pictures & illustrations ...

- Expert advice from on treating common burns in children, a guide to 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns and when to seek immediate treatment, risks and safety tips for child proofing against household injuries, related links and resources.

Ambulatory Management of Burns - With focus on more serious burns with medically suggested treatment, information on wound healing times and risk prevention, and related burn treatment fact sheets, from American Family Physicians.

Chemical Burn Treatment - First aid and home care tips, advice on when to seek medical care, information on professional treatment, follow-up care and tips on prevention.

Burn (injury) - Wikipedia entry with facts, illustrations, and first aid tips on treating thermal, electrical and chemical burns, scalds and cold burns, with related resources.


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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