How can you treat a burn at home?

Whether you spend too much time in the sun, burn your hand on a pan, or spill hot tea on your lap, burns are surely unpleasant. Burns are the most common household injuries which can also be treated easily at home.

Basically, burns are characterized by their severity. A first-degree burn is least severe because it only affects the outer layer of your skin. Usually, it causes redness, mild pain, and swelling. Deeper layers of your skin are affected by second-degree burns which cause swellings and white, wet, and shiny skin.

Third-degree burns can damage all layers of your skin. However, fourth-degree burns may comprise the bones and joints only. Third- and fourth-degree burns are very severe and considered as medical emergencies. Therefore, they should only be treated in a hospital.

Most first and second-degree burns can be treated at home if they are less than 3 inches in diameter. Here are some home remedies which are best for healing your skin.

Home remedies for burns

Typically, mild burns take about a week or two for complete healing and usually do not cause marking. The basic goal of burn treatment is to prevent infections, decrease pain, and heal the skin.

Cool water

It is the easiest and effective way to burn treatment. The first thing you need do after getting a minor burn is to run cool (not cold) water over the burn area for around 20 minutes. After doing this, wash that burned area with mild soap and water.

Cool compresses

A clean wet cloth or cool compress, when placed over the burn area, relieve pain and inflammation. Cool compresses can be applied to the burned area in 5- to 15-minute intervals. Moreover, try to avoid excessively cold compresses as they may irritate the burn more.

Antibiotic ointments

Antibiotic ointments and creams are very helpful for the prevention of infections. Firstly, apply an antibacterial ointment such as Bacitracin or Neosporin to your burn. Then, cover it with adhering film or a sterile, non-fluffy bandage or cloth.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is often touted as the “burn plant” which is commonly available in creams and moisturizers. Many studies show an indication that aloe vera is very effective in healing first- to second-degree burns. Also, it is anti-inflammatory which promotes circulation and inhibits the growth of bacteria.

A layer of pure aloe vera gel is taken from an aloe vera plant directly and applied to the affected area. In case you buy aloe vera in a store, it must contain a high concentration of aloe vera and avoid additives, particularly coloring and perfumes.


Honey can soothe a burn. Therefore, it can be used for burn treatment. Researchers have found that honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which may promote healing.

Honey just got sweeter with a pleasant taste. It may help heal a minor burn when applied topically. Honey is anti-inflammatory and naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

Reducing sun exposure

The burned skin can be very sensitive to the sun. Therefore, avoid exposing the burn to direct sunlight and keep it covered with clothing. If you cannot avoid the sun, try to wear loose-fitting clothes which covers the wound.

Don’t pop your blisters

It may be tempting but leave your blisters alone. The fluid-filled blister keeps the skin clean, which avoids infection and promotes easy healing. Therefore, do not pop your blisters. Bursting a blister can lead to infection. In case you are worried about blisters which have formed due to your burn, see a medical professional.

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever

In case of pain, take an OTC pain reliever like ibuprofen or naproxen. Ibuprofen is a good choice and acts as a pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory drug. Furthermore, don’t forget to read the label for the correct dosage.

Remedies to stay away from

Unusual home remedies and old tales for treating burns are very common, but not everything you do at home is good for you. Here are some common home burn remedies which should be avoided;


Butter should not be used for burn treatment. There’s almost no evidence supporting its effectiveness as a burn remedy. Moreover, it may, in fact, make your burn worse. This is because butter retains heat and may harbor harmful bacteria which can infect the burned skin.


Opposing to general belief, coconut oil does not heal everything. For the same reason why you should not use butter for your burns, oils, like olive oil, coconut oil, and cooking oils, hold heat in. They can even cause your skin to continue to burn.

Lavender oil is stated to help heal mild burns, but published evidence is little to support this. Moreover, studies conducted in rats have not shown any advantage of using lavender oil to heal a burn.

Egg whites

Another tale, uncooked egg whites carry a risk of bacterial infection. So, it shouldn’t be placed on a burn. Moreover, eggs can also cause an allergic reaction.


Avoid use of toothpaste to a burn which is another folk tale with no indication to back it up. Toothpaste could irritate your burn by creating a favorable environment for infection. Toothpaste is not sterile.


Ice and very cold water can irritate your burn area more. It may even cause a cold burn if used inadequately.

When to consult a doctor

It is important to distinguish when a burn can be treated at home and when you need to seek medical care. You should consult your doctor if;

  • a burn disturbs an extensive area like more than 3 inches in diameter
  • the burn consists of the hands, face, buttocks, or groin area
  • the wound becomes painful
  • you develop a high temperature
  • if you have a third-degree burn
  • if your last tetanus shot was more than 5 years ago

Third-degree burns are very severe and should never be treated at home. They can cause serious complications, counting infections, blood loss, and shock.

Usually, a third-degree burn is referred to as a “full-thickness burn.” It reaches underlying tissues of your body and can even damage the nerves. Different symptoms of third-degree burn include;

  • waxy, white-colored skin
  • char
  • dark brown color
  • raised and leathery texture

Burns which are caused by an electrical shock is also risky for home treatment. These burns can reach layers under your skin and can even damage internal tissues which may be worse. Therefore, don’t take chances and consult your doctor right away.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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