Burning and scalding is an uncomfortable but relatively common occurrence in our day to day lives. Burns and scalds can take place while working in the kitchen, by accidentally touching a hot iron, dropping a steaming cup of tea or by simply even walking in the sun. However, there is a marked difference in the intensity of burns based on the degree of skin and muscle tissue that has been breached, which in common parlance are called either first, second or third-degree burns. Simply put, first-degree buns are the least severe and third-degree burns are the most severe. As a result of this variation, burn care too is of various types.
Several first-degree burns can be treated with simple home-care remedies, but the key is accurately diagnosing them. Burn injuries where muscle tissue is visible are burns that require professional medical attention. Similarly, burn injuries that are spread over a skin surface more than three inches in diameter, even if still categorised as first-degree burns, need medical attention. Furthermore, it is also not advisable to treat burns incurred from electrical wiring at home since electrical burns can damage tissues deep inside the skin surface without leaving a prominent impact on the outer skin. For simple burns, several home remedies can be used effectively. At the same time, if these remedies fail to bring results within two or three days, approaching a medical professional is recommended.
Burns are essentially the body’s reaction to touching a hot surface. The most effective remedy to burns is thus negating this effect by bringing the affected area in contact with a cooling agent. Cold water, and preferably running cold water, is an age-old solution to burn injuries due to this factor. This is since water has the highest specific heat capacity among all substances.
Aloe vera is reputed for its anti-burn properties since it has anti-inflammatory properties and improves blood circulation; this is in addition to its cooling properties. Since it also contains anti-bacterial properties, some sources suggest that it can be used for second degree burns as well; however, this is not recommended. A further challenge with aloe vera products is that most products available in the market contain additives, which may have counter-productive effects on burn treatment. As a result, aloe vera products with high aloe vera content are recommended.
Honey offers anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties like aloe vera, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. It can thus be used as a substitute when aloe vera products aren’t readily available.
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Ointment and painkillers
Ointments and painkillers occupy a contentious spot on this list since they aren’t essentially natural remedies. Their position here is however based on their ready availability in most homes. Antibiotic ointments and creams can play a role in speeding up the healing process for burn injuries. They simultaneously kill microbes that can aggravate burn injuries as well. Painkillers on the other hand do not directly help in healing burn injuries, but can contain such injuries since most modern painkillers contain anti-inflammatory properties. However, painkillers are mostly used for burn injuries that are not severe in scope, but which are painful enough to prevent people from performing tasks. Given this, painkillers are to be used only for temporary relief.