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How to Treat Burns at Home

By Jennifer Magnesi ; Updated July 27, 2017

Burns to the skin range in the degree of severity of burn, from first- to third-degree burns. Many first- and second-degree burns may be considered to be minor and treated at home with little or no medical supervision. Following home treatment, your burn should heal in a week or less, depending on the severity of the burn. Avoid touching the burned skin, (except for treating it), to prevent irritation or infection. If you feel that your burn is a third-degree burn, which is referred to the burn going through all the layers of skin (epidermis and dermis), you need emergency medical care and you might need treatment at a burn center.

Determine if the burn is a first-, second-, or a third-degree burn. First- and second-degree burns will include redness and swelling around the burned areas, with mild to moderate pain and possible blistering. First-degree burns can be treated at home, as well as second degree burns that are less than three inches in diameter. Third degree burns involve more severe pain, breathing difficulty and dangerous health risks; you should seek emergency medical care if you suspect your burn is a third-degree burn.

Relieve pain and reduce swelling by holding the burned skin under cool but not ice cold water for 10 to15 minutes. You may use a cold compress on the burned skin, but do not use ice, as it increase your body temperature too quickly, and can make you ill.

Apply aloe vera gel to the burned areas of the skin. Do not use lotion or creams with aloe vera in it, because you want the aloe vera itself. Lotion or creams with aloe vera might contain ingredients in the lotion or creams that could irritate the burn.

Loosely cover the burn with sterile gauze and gently secure with a gauze clip or tape. This will protect the burn while it heals. Repeat steps 3 and 4 once a day until the burn has healed.

Take the recommended dose of your preferred brand of aspirin or ibuprofen for pain relief. If the pain is so severe that this does not alleviate it, seek medical attention.


Get plenty of rest. Eat well. Burn victims need more calories for healing than people who do not have burns. As with all injuries or illnesses, resting helps speed physical recovery.


If the burned area is charred black or appears dry and white, seek medical attention immediately as this indicates a third-degree burn.

Look for signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, fever and severe blistering and seek medical attention if you have any of these signs.

Avoid popping any blisters that have formed over your burn, as this can cause infection.

Do not use butter or margarine on burns.

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