How to Treat a Basic Burn

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Just in case you accidentally slap the stove.

Mankind has long had something of a paradoxical relationship with heat and fire. It’s one of our greatest, most useful tools, but it’s also one of our mortal enemies. Heat is the ultimate destroyer, after all; enough of it can vaporize anything. But I guess that’s a little dramatic. After all, we’re not talking about laser beams here, we’re talking about burning your hand on a stove.

Burns to your skin come in first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. A first-degree burn only affects the outermost layer of your skin, so they’re not a massive danger to your health, just painful and uncomfortable. If you administer treatment immediately after receiving a burn, it won’t hurt as bad and will heal faster.

  1. First, immediately run the burned area under some cold water or place a cold compress on it. Do this for around ten minutes until the pain eases off.
  2. Use a sterile substance like petroleum jelly to keep it cool and moist. Certain ointments are okay as long as they’re specifically for treating burns; generic stuff won’t work as well, and you could risk an infection.
  3. Cover up the burn with a sterile, nonstick bandage. If you get blisters, just leave them alone and they’ll heal on their own.
  4. Try to keep the burned area out of direct sunlight, as additional heat could cause damage and scarring.
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Typically, a first-degree burn will heal on its own after a few days to a week, so you shouldn’t have to see a doctor unless it happens in a particularly sensitive spot. Second- and third-degree burns, on the other hand, are genuine emergencies, and warrant an immediate trip to the emergency room. Second and third-degree burns affect the inner layers of your skin, and can cause painful swelling on top of the other symptoms. If you’ve got a severe burn, go to the emergency room right away.