Ouch! You just made the mistake of touching a hot stove.

The burn definitely hurts, and it might leave a mark, but it isn’t bad enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. So what can you do to treat it at home?

Keep reading to learn five effective home remedies for burns and how to tell when it’s serious enough to require a physician’s care.

1. Cool Water

The first thing you should do after getting a mild burn is to run it under cool water for 10-20 minutes. This will help reduce pain and decrease inflammation. Make sure to keep the water temperature just slightly cooler than room temperature, as too cold of water can irritate the area further.

2. Cool Compress

You can also use a cool compress to relieve swelling and irritation in place of running water. Use a damp washcloth, a plastic bag full of cool water, or an ice pack wrapped in towels. Hold the compress to the area for 10-20 minutes at a time, taking a break in between applications. 

3. Aloe Vera

The aloe vera plant is popular in many home remedies, especially those for burn care. You can either use an aloe ointment from the store or slice open a leaf and gently apply the “juice” directly to the burn. Just make sure to only apply aloe to mild burns with unbroken skin—don’t put it on open wounds.

4. Honey

Due to its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, honey has been used to treat mild burns throughout history.

To use it, apply a thin layer to the burn and wrap it with a clean, dry dressing. Repeat for a few days until the burn begins to heal. Like aloe vera, it should never be applied to an open wound.

5. Take OTC Painkillers

Many over-the-counter painkillers are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medicines, such as Advil and Tylenol, work by decreasing inflammation in the body. Taking the recommended dosage can help reduce pain and relieve some of the burn’s swelling.

When Home Remedies for Burns Aren’t Enough

Burns fall into three categories based on their severity: first, second, and third-degree. A first-degree burn is like a light sunburn—the top layer of skin is red and painful, but there are no blisters and there won’t be any lasting damage.

A second-degree burn is severe enough to damage the first two layers of the skin. It will be bright red, swollen, painful, and often shiny. You’re also likely to get blisters and some scarring from this type of burn.

A third-degree burn is the most severe because it involves damage to all three layers of the skin. When you have a large second-degree or any size third-degree burn, you should get it examined at your local ER or Urgent Care clinic. And if you’re not sure what category the burn falls into, it’s better to be safe than sorry—so get it checked out just in case.

Prevention Is the Best Remedy

While these home remedies for burns can help you out in a pinch, the best way to take care of a burn is to keep it from happening in the first place! Be careful to keep hot tools like curling irons out of reach while they’re hot, keep any open flames protected, and avoid leaving hot liquids like soup or oil near the front of your stove.

If you’re looking for DIY ways to manage your family’s health, check out this post on ten easy ways to cut your healthcare costs this year.

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