For many second-degree burns, home treatment is all that is
needed for healing and to prevent other problems.
Rinse the burn
Rinse burned skin with cool water until the
pain stops. Rinsing will usually stop the pain in 15 to 30 minutes. The cool
water lowers the skin temperature and stops the burn from becoming more
serious. You may:
Place arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, or
toes in a basin of cool water.
Apply cool compresses to burns on
the face or body.
Do not use ice or ice
water, which can cause tissue damage.
Take off any jewelry, rings,
or clothing that could be in the way or that would become too tight if the skin
Clean the burn
Wash your hands before cleaning a burn.
Do not touch the burn with your hands or anything dirty, because open blisters
can easily be infected.
Do not break the
Gently wash the burn area with clean water. Some of the
burned skin might come off with washing. Pat the area dry with a clean cloth or
Do not put sprays or butter
on burns, because this traps the heat inside the burn.
Bandaging the burn
If the burned skin or blisters have not broken
open, a bandage may not be needed. If the burned skin or unbroken blisters are
likely to become dirty or be irritated by clothing, apply a
If the burned skin or blisters have broken open, a bandage
is needed. To further help prevent infection, apply a clean bandage whenever
your bandage gets wet or soiled. If a bandage is stuck to a burn, soak it in
warm water to make the bandage easier to remove. If available, use a nonstick
dressing. There are many bandage products available. Be sure to read the
product label for correct use.
Wrap the burn loosely to avoid
putting pressure on the burned skin.
Do not tape a bandage so that
it circles a hand, arm, or leg. This can cause swelling.
There are many nonprescription burn dressings available. Be sure to
follow the instructions included in the package.
If the burn is on a leg or an arm, keep the limb raised as much as
possible for the first 24 to 48 hours to decrease swelling. Move a burned leg
or arm normally to keep the burned skin from healing too tightly, which can
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O’Connor, MD – Emergency Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine