A sunburn or a burn from cooking—yowza, it hurts! Whether it's a first- or second-degree burn, fast and attentive treatment is essential. The burn turns red, blisters and then quickly starts to peel. Although it takes time to heal—three to six days for first-degree and two to three weeks for second-degree—a few simple steps can help the process.
Immediately after the burn happens, run cold water on it. Then apply a cold compress directly to the burn to cool the area and alleviate some of the pain. Cold compresses can be made by taking a piece of clean, dry cotton cloth and folding it to create a pad. Soak the pad in icy, cold water and wring it out. To get it even colder, wrap the cloth around an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables.
Apply a moisturizing cream to keep the skin moist, which helps the healing process. Aloe vera gel is amazing for burn relief on its own or added to a lotion. When applying the moisturizer to a blistered area, be gentle and don't burst the blisters, as they can get infected easily.
Skin will naturally start to peel when healing, so it's important to continue applying the moisturizing cream regularly and generously. Attach a loose gauze bandage over the area to protect the area from air, dirt and anything that can cause infection.
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Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like aspirin or ibuprofen to help ease any pain. Follow the dosage instructions and read warnings on the label.
Leave blisters intact; a burst blister can become infected.
Avoid alcohol-based products on the skin, as they can cause damage and dryness.
Seek medical attention immediately if the burn area covers more than two to three inches, or if there are any signs of infection such as fever and intense pain.
Jane Frances has been writing since 1995. She has written and edited for a variety of national publications.