How to Treat a Burn: Summer Emergencies

Posted Jul 28, 2011 | Posted in Diseases & Treatments

How to Treat a Burn: Summer EmergenciesDo you know how to treat a burn at home? Sweltering beach days and afternoon barbeques are always fun outdoor activities, but sometimes accidents happen. Whether you forgot sunscreen or had a cooking accident with the grill, burns are common summer injuries and are often very uncomfortable. Luckily, most of them can be treated at home easily.

There are three different types of burns: first-, second- and third-degree. First-degree burns are the least harmful, and only the top layer of skin is affected. This kind of minor burn turns the skin red, can induce swelling and also can cause pain. Sunburns are often first-degree burns.

Second-degree burns affect multiple layers of skin. Blisters develop, the skin is much redder, and they are a lot more painful. If the second-degree burn is smaller than a half dollar or up to three inches across, treat it as a minor burn.

Minor burns can be treated at home.


  • Cool the burn. Run it under cold water to help relieve pain. You can also apply cooling lotions such as aloe vera to help heal your skin.
  • Apply a dressing. Wrapping your wound lightly will help keep it sterile and clear of infection.


  • Apply butter to the burn. This old home remedy doesn’t work, and it can cause infection.
  • Use petroleum products to try and cool the burn. This will keep the heat in and take the burn longer to heal. 
  • Scratch the skin. As your burn heals it may become dry and itchy, but try to resist the urge to scratch it.

Second-degree burns that are larger than three inches, or are on the hands, feet, face or major joints are considered major burns. If you think you have a major burn, go to the emergency room right away.

A third-degree burn is much more serious than a minor burn and should not be treated at home.  Seek immediate medical attention if your skin has turned white or looks like it has been charred. Before you reach the doctor, don’t remove any clothing from the burn area, and don’t try to immerse it in cold water – this could cause hypothermia and/or shock.

Though minor burns are uncomfortable, follow these simple steps to treat them at home and they’ll quickly begin to heal.


One response to “How to Treat a Burn: Summer Emergencies”

  1. You should apply petroleum jelly for first degree burn, on the area that is burnt, just make sure that you do not rub it a lot. This can actually cause more pain. Burns also bring down the moisture in the area, applying petroleum jelly can help retain it.

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