Treating burns promptly and effectively so that infection doesn't occur is the key ingredient in preventing scarring from burn blisters. The American Academy of Dermatology explains that scarring, a natural part of the skin's healing process, is more likely to occur if injury to the skin is extensive or takes a long time to heal. If you have blisters, this is characteristic of a second-degree burn, which not only affects the skin's outer layer (the epidermis), but the papillary dermis directly underneath. Natural home remedies for burn blisters should always conform to the traditional rules of first aid so they can heal quickly without infection and subsequent scarring.
Always assess a burn's dimensions and location before you treat it at home. The American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Institutes of Health stress that burn blisters that are larger than 2 to 3 inches in diameter should be considered major burns. In addition, never use a home remedy on a first- or second-degree burn on the face, extremities (hands, feet), groin or buttocks, or on one that affects the area of skin over a large joint in the body (knees, shoulders). If burn blisters shouldn't be treated at home, don't attempt it–seek prompt medical attention.
Submerging the skin under cool water as soon as you can after the burn is key to preventing scarring and infection, says the AAFP. The AAFP advises keeping the burn under water for at least 15 minutes. For burn blisters that are small, you can also soothe them by applying a cool, damp cloth to the skin a few minutes each day. Don't apply ice directly to burned skin or submerge the burn in ice water.
Protect the burn blisters from the air by covering them with a clean, dry sterile bandage or gauze, advises the NIH. Consider using a nonstick bandage secured with wraparound gauze or medical tape. Change the dressing daily, making sure to wash your hands first. Clean the burn gently and apply a soothing treatment, if you like (see below). The NIH and Mayo Clinic state that cooling the skin right after the burn and protecting the skin with bandaging are generally sufficient; if the burned area of skin is small, you may not need to wear a dressing during the day.
A common natural home remedy for burns is aloe vera gel. Integrative physician Dr. Andrew Weil says that it's often helpful to have an aloe vera plant on hand so you can treat burns. Simply clip a leaf near the bottom of the plant, cut it in half length-wise and score the leaf with the tip of a knife before applying fresh aloe to wounded skin. Aloe vera gels and creams are also sold in drugstores, pharmacies and health food markets. Weil advises reading the label closely and selecting the product with the greatest amount of aloe.
Tincture of Calendula
As an alternative to aloe vera, calendula tincture can also be applied topically to burn blisters. Weil explains that this is derived from a yellow/orange ornamental flower also known as "pot marigold." This can also be found at most health food markets.
Honey can also be an effective burn treatment, but Weil urges you not to rely on the regular type of honey you purchase at the market, but rather use medicinal honeys that you can find at health food markets. Manuka honey is one type of medicinal honey used in New Zealand for wound treatment; it is available for consumer purchase. "Medihoney," used in Germany, may also be of help.
Old wives' remedies include putting butter or cooking oil on burns–stay away from these home treatments, as they can cause infection. Don't pick at the blisters or scratch your skin as it begins to heal. This, too, can cause scarring. Monitor your burn carefully for signs of infection (increased redness and pain and drainage) and seek medical attention if they are present.
Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.