If you've ever inadvertently grabbed a hot pan while preparing dinner, let the curling iron slip while styling your hair or laid out for just a little too long in the sun, you know how much even a minor burn to the skin can hurt. But relieving that pain can be easy, if you just know what to do.
Identifying your burn: When to seek medical attention
Knowing how to properly treat a burn at home first requires a survey of the wound itself. Identifying the source and degree of the burn is the critical first step in nurturing it. Determining the degree of the burn is usually not tricky. If your burn is of the first degree, you'll notice redness as the first determining factor, accompanied by mild to severe pain and possibly swelling. Second degree burns are a bit more severe, showcasing extreme redness, pain, blistering and peeling of the skin, and possibly small amounts of blood. Third degree burns, which are the most severe, present with obvious skin tissue and even muscle loss, burnt black (or white) edges and sometimes heavy bleeding. Although third degree burns are the most serious, they are often the least painful because the nerve endings required to sense pain have been burned and destroyed.
If your symptoms indicate that you have either a second or third degree burn, it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. The open wounds and blisters of second and third degree burns can become extremely infected and become life threatening if they are not properly treated by a physician.
If your symptoms show that you have a painful first degree burn, there are a variety of measures that can be taken to relieve the pain and promote the healing of your skin.
Cool it first, then treat the pain
First, run the burn under cool (but not cold) running water for 10 to 15 minutes. Because skin can retain heat (especially from radiation burns such as sunburn), this step is particularly important. Retained heat can provoke the severity of the burn and make it worse than it has to be.
After soaking the burn, you can choose to take some acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to help ease the pain. Because burns often have pain that lingers for hours or even days, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever every four to six hours can help keep that pain at bay for extended periods.
You may also choose a lotion, cream or salve to promote healing, ward off infection and ease pain. Try applying aloe vera gel or wet tea bags to the affected area, as the tannins in tea are known for their pain relieving and antimicrobial properties.
Other soothing home remedies include spraying an icy-cold lemon juice and water (Вј cup juice to 4 cups water) concoction onto your burn with a spray bottle. Saturating cotton balls with white vinegar and rubbing liberally is also a great option that will provide excellent pain relief. Don't apply acid mixtures to broken skin, though, as it'll sting.
Get plenty of rest and drink fluids liberally because burns can be dehydrating to your skin. Keeping your skin hydrated from the inside will promote faster healing. With a little tender loving care, your minor burn will be healed in no time.