The Right Way to Treat Minor Burns

Rachel Krause
Serpil Borlu/iStock/Getty Images

Serpil Borlu/iStock/Getty Images

Falling victim to the flat iron, curling wand, or even just the stove is an all too common occurrence in our world, but what we’re less familiar with is the proper way to respond in the wake of a minor singe. We’ve heard countless dissenting opinions on how to proceed: submerge it in cold water, submerge it in warm water, slap yogurt over top, and plenty more.

But because burns can easily become infected, and almost always turn to scars, it’s important to act fast to mitigate the aftereffects as much as possible. (Of course, we’re talking first-degree and small, minor second-degree burns here, as with a quick pass with a hot tool, a splash of hot water, or even a nasty sunburn. Anything beyond that should be treated by a doctor ASAP.)

Cool it down with lukewarm water.
While your initial instinct may be to use cold water to lower the temperature faster, that can do more harm than good. Instead, use water that’s on the cooler side of lukewarm, and submerge the burned area for around 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use a clean towel moistened with cool water to apply to the area.

Leave blisters alone.
Popping or breaking blisters is a recipe for infection, so avoid it as much as possible. If they’re compromised inadvertently, clean the area gently with a mild soap, then apply Neosporin or a similar antibiotic ointment.

Apply a soothing topical treatment.
To assuage the initial pain, aloe vera gel or cream is the ideal skin soother to take the sting out of a burn. You can also try a low-dose prescription hydrocortisone cream.

Cover it.
The area should be able to “breathe” in order to heal, but it’s also important to protect it from further damage. You can use a standard bandaid (for smaller areas), or loosely wrapped gauze.

Take a pain reliever.
If the pain from the burn doesn’t let up, even after you’ve treated it, a bit of acetaminophen or ibuprofen will do the trick.

Read more from Daily Makeover: How to Get Rid of Scars—For Good