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How to Soothe Burns

author image Kat Long
I am a freelance journalist and author of the forthcoming book THE FORBIDDEN APPLE: A Century of Sex and Sin in New York City (Ig Publishing, January 2009). I have a number of years' experience in writing about local culture in New York City, including trend pieces, food and restaurant reviews, celebrity profiles and investigative stories. In addition, I've written about topics of national scope for Playgirl, BUST, PlanetOut Publishing and other outlets. I am currently looking for freelance writing assignments that have the potential to develop into long-term working relationships.
How to Soothe Burns
Dress minor burns with sterile gauze bandages. Photo Credit: Marina Bartel/iStock/Getty Images

Whether it's from staying out too long in the sun or accidentally touching a hot pot handle, minor thermal burns are a common occurrence among adults and children. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.1 million people experience burns requiring medical attention every year, with many more suffering mild burns that can be treated at home. Mild burns are characterized by reddish skin, swelling, moderate pain or topical blisters that respond to first-aid treatment.

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Step 1

Sun burns can be treated at home.
Sun burns can be treated at home. Photo Credit: Ralf Nau/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Assess whether the burn is appropriate for at-home treatment. Mild to moderate sunburns and burns -- reddened skin which may blister -- received from touching hot surfaces can usually be treated at home, provided the burn isn't on the hands, face, feet, groin or major joint, or over a large area of the body. Seek immediate medical attention if your burn affects these areas, or your burned skin is white or charred.

Step 2

Hold burned area under cool running water.
Hold burned area under cool running water. Photo Credit: AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images

Hold the burned area under cool running water for 10 to 15 minutes, immediately after receiving the injury, to temporarily relieve pain and reduce swelling. Or, apply cool compresses to the skin. Avoid cold water or ice, which can lower your body temperature and cause more damage to the burned skin.

Step 3

Apply bandage to the burned area.
Apply bandage to the burned area. Photo Credit: plusphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Apply the sterile non-stick gauze bandage to the burned area to protect blistered skin from air and lint. Avoid breaking blisters, which may increase risk of infection. Change the bandage every 48 hours.

Step 4

Moisturize large sunburned areas  with aloe vera.
Moisturize large sunburned areas with aloe vera. Photo Credit: Dario Sartini/Hemera/Getty Images

Moisturize sunburns, which are usually too large to wrap in a bandage, with aloe vera gel. Apply the gel liberally until it's absorbed by the skin.

Step 5

Take a pain reliever to minimize discomfort.
Take a pain reliever to minimize discomfort. Photo Credit: Image Source/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Take a nonprescription pain reliever such as aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or naproxen sodium (Naprosyn, Aleve) according to dosage instructions to minimize discomfort, if approved by your doctor.

Step 6

Call your doctor if there is pain or sweling.
Call your doctor if there is pain or sweling. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Allow the burn to heal while watching for signs of infection, which include increasing pain, redness, swelling, fever or oozing. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Step 7

Wear sunscreen to avoid burning skin again.
Wear sunscreen to avoid burning skin again. Photo Credit: Marc Debnam/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Treat the burned skin gently, even after healing. Wear sunscreen over the area to avoid tanning or re-injuring the skin for at least a year.

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