in: Health, Health & Fitness, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 2, 2021

How to Treat a Minor Burn

The following steps are required to treat a minor burn.

Burns are one of the most painful and most common injuries, from minor burns caused by soaking up a few too many rays on the beach to serious burns caused by close contact with fire. Burn injuries are classified as belonging to one of three categories: first-, second-, and third-degree. First-degree burns are the most superficial, only affecting the top layer of skin, leaving it red and painful, but typically healing within a few days. Second-degree burns are more painful, because they extend into the second layer of skin. They are often associated with the formation of painful blisters and take a week or more to heal. Third-degree burns are the most serious, classified by their size (anything larger than 2 inches across) and severity. They extend through the second layer of skin to cause blisters and leave your epidermis looking white or black.

For third-degree burns, always seek medical attention immediately. The same goes for any burn caused by electrical contact or chemical burns, and all burns affecting the face, hands, joints, or genital area.

For minor burns, however, simple at-home remedies are usually sufficient and only require the few basic steps and supplies outlined above.

1: Run cool, not cold, water over the affected area, or cover with a cool, damp towel for 10-15 min.

2: Clean the burn site gently with soap and water to help prevent any infection that might creep in through broken blisters.

3: Apply a soothing moisturizer gel, such as aloe vera, to the burn site. Do not use lotions or creams which may irritate the site.

4: Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help manage pain and reduce swelling.

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Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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