How to Prevent and Treat a Burn at Home

Mom smiling and watching two young children stirring pot at stove

As we put a pin in the month of January and look forward to the beginning of February, we set our focus on a very important cause: Burn Awareness Week. Observed the first week in February, Burn Awareness Week gives us a moment to reflect and be thoughtful about teaching others the importance of skin safety.

According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, approximately 70,000 people were admitted to the ER because of contact burns in 2018. About a third of those patients were children under the age of five. There are steps you can take to prevent a contact burn. Here are some of the most common:

How to Avoid a Contact Burn

  1. Turn heating pads off when not in use or before sleep.
  2. Wear long pot gloves when using the grill, microwave, or oven.
  3. Wear shoes or foot protection when walking on hot pavement or sand. That goes for your dog too.
  4. Be careful of tripping hazards near hot objects.
  5. Keep a close watch on children when using hot objects at all times.

Ok, so you made a mistake and burned yourself cooking. Those forearm burns you get when taking the cookies out of the oven are the worst (see #2 above). Or, maybe the curling iron got the best of you. We’ve all been there. Now what?

First degree burns are very common and not nearly as serious as third-degree burns. Yes, they will still hurt, but you can definitely treat them. Treating them right away can help to avoid scarring.

Treating a First-Degree Burn at Home

  1. The very first thing you need to do is cool it down. A wet compress or running it under cold water for 10 minutes will help with the pain.
  2. You don’t need to apply any topical antibiotics. A little petroleum jelly applied two or three times a day will keep your burned skin from getting an infection. If it blisters, avoid any temptation to pop it. Just keep it clean and covered with a nonstick, sterile bandage.
  3. If you are really suffering with discomfort, an over-the-counter pain medication will help. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen should reduce inflammation and pain.
  4. Stay out of the sun while healing and after. Apply SPF 30 or higher and/or keep the area covered while outside. This can help to minimize scarring.

The good news is first-degree burns typically heal on their own. If it happens to an infant, an elderly person, or if the burn covers a large area of the body, it’s best to seek medical care from a professional.

To talk to a board-certified dermatologist about a burn or to help with a burn scar, request a consultation with The Derm Group online or call us at (973) 571-2121.