How to Prevent Scarring From a Steam Burn

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Covering the burn with sterile gauze keeps air from irritating the wound. (Image: Ocskaymark/iStock/Getty Images)

A burn occurs when the skin is exposed to a temperature greater than 140 degrees F, according to MayoClinic.com. Treatment for most minor burns, including those caused by steam, is similar. The best way to avoid scarring is to provide immediate first aid to the wound. This will prevent complications that may lead to further damage of the tissue and scar formation. Problems, such as infection, are going to be the most likely cause of scarring from a minor burn. Burns that cover a large surface area or that blister and break open are not minor and will require medical treatment.

Step 1

Cool the burn immediately by immersing the area in room temperature water. Push the burned skin under running water or fill a container to submerge the area. Do not place ice on the wound. The nature of burns may make it difficult to tell when the area becomes too cold and begins to freeze. Room temperature water is the best choice to cool and stop the burn.

Step 2

Look closely at the burn to determine the extent of the damage. If the area does not blister but remains red or pink, this is probably a first-degree burn and will not need to be evaluated by a medical professional. Burns that cover large areas, even if it is just a first degree burn, should be looked at by a doctor. For example, a steam burn that covers the entire surface of your arm is more serious than a burn the size of a quarter.

Step 3

Apply a light cream or aloe gel to the burn. Avoid using any solution that is greasy or heavy. Do not apply an ointment or butter to the area. MayoClinic.com states that butter will hold in the heat and cause the burning to continue.

Step 4

Cover the wound with a sterile bandage to help prevent infection and reduce pain. Place the gauze square over the burn loosely and use paper tape to secure it.

Step 5

Remove the bandage after 24 hours and look at the burned site again. If the area has blistered or has discharge, go to the doctor. Burns can open skin and introduce infection. Reapply cream and cover the area with a new bandage as long as the skin is not open.

Things You'll Need

  • Room temperature water

  • Moisturizing cream

  • Aloe gel

  • Sterile gauze bandage

  • Paper tape

  • Scissors

Tip

If necessary, take an over-the-counter medication to manage pain. Burns can hurt, even first degree.

Warning

Avoid touching or picking at the damaged skin. Leave the bandage on as long as air hitting the area increases the pain. Minor burns should stop hurting within a few days.

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