Treating a Minor Burn
Burns can be especially painful, especially when they occur on sensitive parts of the body. Generally, minor burns do not require medical intervention; however, there are a few steps you should take to relieve pain and prevent infection when treating a minor burn:
- Cool the burn: Hold the burned skin under cool (not cold) water for about 10 to 15 minutes. If this isn't possible, immerse the injury in cool water or apply a cold compress.
- Cover the injury: Cover the wound with a sterile gauze bandage. Do not use cotton or any other material that might get lint or other foreign particles into the wound. Be sure to wrap the bandage loosely to avoid applying too much pressure to the injury.
- Take a pain reliever: Consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen or naproxen. Do not give aspirin to children under two or to teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms.
- Monitor the wound: It's normal for tissue to take on a different color from surrounding skin during the healing process. That said, it's important to watch for signs of infection, including redness, increasing pain, swelling, fever or oozing. If these symptoms develop, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What Not to Do
When it comes to treating a burn, popular home remedies can actually do more harm than good. If you've suffered a burn, avoid the following treatment methods:
- Do not apply ice to the wound, since this can cause further damage.
- Do not apply butter, egg whites or ointments, since this can promote infection.
- Do not break blisters, as this can also increase the likelihood of infection.
When to Seek Help
While minor burns generally require no medical intervention, serious burns demand action. If your burn has any of the following characteristics, seek emergency care immediately:
- Burns involving the ears, eyes, genitals, buttocks, hands, feet or over the top of major joints
- A full thickness burn that is painless, looks dry or appears charred
- A partial thickness burn twice the size of your palm or larger
- Uncontrollable pain
If a burn affects several layers of tissue, it's important to seek medical help right away. If you're unsure whether your burn is serious enough for medical intervention, visit a physician for an evaluation.