What to Do for Hand Burns

August 19, 2023
Picture of a doctor wrapping gauze around a patient's burned hand.

Did you recently burn your hand? Perhaps you applied sunscreen to the rest of your body but forgot to rub it into the backs of your hands before heading to the pool. Or maybe you accidentally touched the stove or a hot pot while you were cooking dinner.

While burning any area of your body can certainly be unpleasant, hand burns tend to be especially troublesome given how often we use that part of our body. Not being able to use your hands greatly impacts your life—causing routine tasks to become difficult, if not impossible—so it’s important to know how to care for hand burns. Below, we explain what burned hand treatment involves and also discuss what not to do for a burn.

What Does Burned Hand Treatment Involve?

Burned hand treatment will vary depending on the severity of the burn. First- and second-degree burns—which can produce redness, pain, swelling, and blisters—can usually be treated at home by:

  • Removing any rings, bracelets, and other jewelry in that area
  • Running cool water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Covering the burn with gauze and a loose bandage
  • Keeping the area around the burn clean
  • Monitoring the burn for signs of infection (e.g., fever and discharge)
  • Taking pain medication
  • Applying aloe vera gel (for sunburns)
  • Applying an antibiotic cream and gauze (for thermal burns)

However, you should still seek professional burned hand treatment if your burn covers your wrist or the majority of your hand, causes severe pain, appears infected, or hasn’t improved after 48 hours. Third- and fourth-degree burns—which can produce either pain or numbness and cause the skin to look deep red, brown, white, black, charred, or leathery—can be life-threatening and thus should always be treated at an emergency room.

What Not to Do for a Burn

As noted above, when treating a minor burn, it’s often recommended that you run cool water over the area. However, it’s important that you not apply very cold water or ice to the wound, since doing so could further damage the skin.

When caring for burns, you also shouldn’t break any resulting blisters. An open blister allows germs to enter the wound, which could lead to an infection. With that in mind, you also shouldn’t attempt to remove any clothing that’s stuck to the burned portion of skin, since you could risk tearing the skin.

Minor Burned Hand Treatment Near You

If you’ve sustained a first- or second-degree burn on your hand, you can turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care for treatment. We’re a physician-founded practice with urgent care centers across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, and we treat a wide array of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries in patients of all ages.

Visit the PhysicianOne Urgent Care location nearest you for burned hand treatment. Or, if it’s outside of our normal business hours or you’d prefer to remain home, take advantage of our 24/7 integrated telehealth service—you can speak to a local provider from the comfort of home using a video-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer.

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