First Aid Essentials: How to Treat a Burn at Home

5 Minutes

Discover the necessary first aid essentials for treating burns at home in this comprehensive guide. Gain an understanding of burn severity, learn immediate treatment measures, explore over-the-counter remedies, and find out how to manage pain and discomfort. Additionally, learn when to seek medical help and the importance of proper wound care. By following these essential tips, you can confidently provide immediate care for burns and support healing at home.

Bellaire ER front entrance

First Aid Essentials: How to Treat a Burn at Home

Burns can happen unexpectedly, but knowing how to provide immediate first aid at home can make a significant difference in the healing process. In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to effectively treat a burn.

Understanding Burn Severity

Differentiating between first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree burns
Identifying the signs and symptoms of each burn severity level

Immediate First Aid Measures

Cooling the burn with running cool water
Covering the burn with a clean, non-stick bandage
Avoiding home remedies and common misconceptions

Over-the-Counter Burn Remedies

Exploring the use of over-the-counter burn creams and ointments
Understanding the proper application and potential side effects

Managing Pain and Discomfort

Over-the-counter pain relief options for burn-related discomfort
Utilizing non-pharmacological methods to alleviate pain, such as cold compresses or elevation
Section 5: Monitoring and Caring for the Burn

Proper wound care techniques, including cleaning and dressing changes
Signs of infection to watch out for and when to seek medical attention
Section 6: When to Seek Medical Help

Indications that the burn may require professional medical treatment
The role of healthcare professionals in assessing and managing burn injuries


Recap of the key steps in treating a burn at home
Emphasis on the importance of seeking professional medical help for severe burns or complications
By following these first aid essentials, you can provide immediate care and support to someone with a burn injury at home. Remember, if the burn is severe or you have any concerns, it is always recommended to seek medical help for proper evaluation and treatment.

Burns are a common injury that can occur in the kitchen, workplace, or during outdoor activities. They can range from mild to severe, and require different treatments depending on their severity. While minor burns can be treated at home, more serious burns require immediate medical attention. In this article, we will discuss how to treat a burn at home and when to seek medical help. We also recommend visiting Bellaire ER if you're ever unsure about the severity of a burn.

Burns are a common injury, happening frequently around the household due to accidents in the kitchen, a stray iron, or even an unfortunate encounter with the sun during a day at the beach. This guide will take you through the necessary steps for treating a burn at home, aiding pain relief, and preventing complications.

Identifying the Degree of Burn

Before starting treatment, it's essential to identify the degree of the burn.

  • First-degree burns are the mildest type, affecting only the outer layer of the skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling.
  • Second-degree burns penetrate deeper into the skin, causing blisters, intense redness, and can be quite painful.
  • Third-degree burns are the most severe, reaching the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath. They may appear white or charred and can cause severe pain or sometimes no pain at all due to nerve damage.

While first-degree and some second-degree burns can be treated at home, third-degree burns and second-degree burns that cover a large area or are located on the face, hands, feet, groin, or over a major joint require immediate medical attention.

Steps to Treat a Minor Burn at Home

Cool the Burn
Immediately after the burn occurs, hold the affected area under cool (not cold) running water for about 10-15 minutes or until the pain subsides. If running water isn't available, immerse the burn in cool water or apply a cool, damp cloth.

Cover the Burn with a Sterile Bandage
After cooling, cover the burn with a sterile non-stick bandage to protect the area from infection. Do not use fluffy cotton or materials that may stick to the burn.

Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Always follow the instructions on the package.

Keep the Area Clean
Cleanse the area gently with mild soap and water daily. Be careful not to pop any blisters, which can lead to infection.

Apply Moisturizer or Aloe Vera
After the burn has cooled, applying a moisturizer or aloe vera can provide relief and prevent the skin from drying out.

What Not to Do

Avoid applying ice, butter, or egg whites to the burn, as these can delay the healing process and increase the risk of infection.


Knowing how to treat a burn at home can ease the healing process and prevent complications. However, severe burns or burns that don't improve after two weeks should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Remember, prevention is the best way to avoid burns.

Types of Burns

Burns are classified into three categories based on their severity:

First-degree burns: These are the mildest type of burn and affect only the outer layer of skin. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and pain. First-degree burns typically heal within a week and do not require medical attention.

Second-degree burns: These burns affect the second layer of skin and may result in blisters, redness, and pain. Second-degree burns can take several weeks to heal and may require medical attention.

Third-degree burns: These are the most severe type of burn and affect all layers of skin. Symptoms include charred or blackened skin, white or brown patches, and severe pain. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention.

Treating a Minor Burn at Home

If you have a minor burn, you can treat it at home with the following steps:

Remove any clothing or jewelry around the burned area.

Run cool (not cold) water over the burn for 10-15 minutes to help reduce pain and swelling. Avoid using ice or ice water, as this can damage the skin.

Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage or a clean, dry cloth. Do not use fluffy cotton, as it can stick to the wound and cause infection.

Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Keep the burn elevated above the heart, if possible, to reduce swelling.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Seek medical attention if:

The burn is larger than three inches in diameter or covers a joint.

The burn is on the face, hands, feet, or genitals.

The burn is deep and causes white or charred skin.

The burn appears infected, with pus or a foul odor.

The burn was caused by chemicals or electricity.

The burn was caused by an explosion or fire.

Why Visit Bellaire ER?

Bellaire ER is a freestanding emergency medical care facility that provides immediate medical attention to patients with burns, injuries, and illnesses. Our facility is equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology and staffed by experienced medical professionals who are trained to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions. Our team will assess the severity of your burn and provide the appropriate treatment to help you recover quickly and safely. We also offer 24/7 emergency care services, so you can receive the care you need when you need it.

In Conclusion

Burns are a common injury that can range from mild to severe. Minor burns can be treated at home, but more serious burns require immediate medical attention. If you're ever unsure about the severity of a burn, visit Bellaire ER for medical help. With our state-of-the-art technology and experienced medical professionals, you can receive the care you need to recover quickly and safely.


American College of Emergency Physicians. (n.d.). Burns. Retrieved from

American Red Cross. (n.d.). Burns. Retrieved from

Prevention: The Best Form of Protection

While it's essential to know how to treat burns, the best strategy is to avoid getting burned in the first place. Use caution while cooking, keep hot liquids and foods away from children, wear sun protection, and use protective gear while working with heat sources or chemicals.

Aftercare for Minor Burns

Once the initial treatment is complete, it's essential to monitor the burn and keep the area clean to avoid infection. Continue to change the dressing daily, gently cleansing the area and applying a moisturizer or aloe vera.

Signs That a Burn Needs Medical Attention

Even if a burn initially seems minor, certain signs might indicate that it's time to seek medical attention. These signs include increased pain or swelling, red streaks spreading out from the burn, pus or discharge from the burn, or a fever. Additionally, if the burn covers a large area, is on your face or a joint, or if you have any concerns about the burn, it's better to consult a healthcare professional.

The Long-Term Impact of Burns

While most minor burns heal without leaving a scar, some may result in changes in skin color or texture. To reduce the risk of scarring, keep the burn moisturized and protect it from the sun. If a scar does form and it bothers you, options are available to improve the appearance of the scar, such as laser therapy, microdermabrasion, or surgical revision.


Burns are a common but painful injury. By knowing how to provide immediate treatment and care for a burn at home, you can help speed up the healing process, alleviate discomfort, and prevent potential complications. Remember, severe burns always warrant immediate medical attention, and effective prevention strategies are the key to avoiding burns.