Household burns can be caused by any number of unanticipated disasters–a flying splatter of grease, the steam that escapes your tea kettle or the heated styling tool you accidentally pick up before it's cooled. Your first instinct might be to reach for a thick skin cream or other greasy topical. However, MayoClinic.Com says some household treatments are best kept far away from your skin. If you use proper first aid, you might not need any type of cream to treat minor burns.
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What To Do First
Before you put anything on a burn, use proper first aid. Remove any jewelry and clothing around the burned area of skin, MayoClinic.com says. Then submerge the burn in cool water between 50 degrees and 77 degrees F. Don't put ice on the burn or use ice water; this can cool your body off too rapidly and make the burn worse. After that, carefully blot the skin dry and apply fresh, clean gauze to prevent air from hitting the burn. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce pain and inflammation. If you want to take extra measures, you can apply certain types of skin creams to the burn.
Safe Topical Treatments
Safe topicals for burns include antibiotic creams, anesthetic creams or aloe gel. Integrative physician Dr. Andrew Weil recommends calendula tincture or fresh aloe vera gel from a live aloe plant. Snip off a lower leaf next to the center stalk and de-spine the edges. Use a knife to score the leaf length-wise and gently rub it onto the burn. Dr. Weil says fresh aloe vera gel is an excellent remedy for thermal burns, sunburns and other types of skin irritation. If you use gels from the pharmacy, drugstore or market, make sure to select a product with the highest aloe vera content.
What to Avoid
Homespun remedies for burns--such as applying butter, margarine, cooking oil or any type of thick, greasy ointment--is not advised. According to MayoClinic.com, these oily substances cause your skin to retain heat and make the burn worse, contributing to your risk of infection. "Putting butter or margarine on a burn is absolutely useless," says Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross first aid specialist. If the butter or ointment needs to be removed, this can be a painful process, he says.
Assessing Your Burn
Before you treat a burn at home, make sure that it's not serious. According to MayoClinic.com, home aid for burns should be given for first-degree burns that affect only the outer layer of skin and very small second-degree burns–painful, blistering burns that affect the dermis and epidermis.
Seek Medical Care
Don't self-treat any type of burn if it covers a large area of your body, or if it's located on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint, MayoClinic.com says. Limit self-treatment of second-degree burns to those smaller than three inches in diameter. Also seek medical care for third- and fourth-degree burns and those accompanied by difficulty breathing, smoke inhalation and symptoms of weakness and severe pain.