What is the best thing to do if you burn your hand?

What is the best thing to do if you burn your hand?

Any burn that is 2nd or 3rd degree (puckering or blistering/charring of the skin) needs to be seen to by a physician asap. Otherwise, you risk serious, possibly life-threatening, infection and loss of bodily tissue.

In cases of a simple first-degree burn or scald (quick touch to a heated surface or liquid), you have to cool the skin temperature to normalize it as quickly as possible. This is best-done by running the burned/scalded skin under cold running (clean) water until the first “burning” sensation has reduced or passed (at least for one minute). This will also hopefully clean the wound of any foreign substance, such as charred material or chemical irritants.  

Next, you want to disinfect and numb the tissue, both to prevent infection from the compromised area (cohesive skin is the most powerful exterior barrier to infection our body has) and to numb the area’s nerves that perceive burning pain. This helps to abate the hyper-inflammatory process that can result from sudden tissue insult, such as a burn.  

This can be achieved in several ways. The easiest is to apply a combination disinfectant/numbing ointment such as Neosporin “with Pain Relief” (lidocaine). The disinfectants, combined with the topical numbing agent lidocaine, help the metabolism of the tissue resist infection until the skin (dermis layers affected) has healed sufficiently to do so unaided. Aloe Vera gel has also been used as a demulcent (skin-soother) since antiquity, and you can add this after the disinfectant/numbing agents.

There have been many herbal agents throughout history that have been utilized to provide the disinfectant, numbing, and demulcent (skin-soother) properties described above. However, any encompassing list and history of these agents would make this answer far too long, especially when there are cheap and effective alternatives available at the supermarkets and corner stores.

Once you have treated the wound with good cooling, disinfecting, numbing, and demulcent agents, you need to cover the wound with some sort of sterile dressing. Usually this means – Yes! – a Band-Aid. Think of the Band-Aid dressing as a kind of “temporary non-adhesive synthetic skin” that will serve as a protective barrier while your actual skin is vulnerable and healing. Make sure that the adhesive doesn’t touch the wounded skin, or it will abrade the skin further. You will want to repeat this treatment every 4-6 hours as needed, for at least 24 hours: rinsing, applying “ointment” and covering with a bandage. If there is ANY indication of excessive reddening, swelling, or sensations of itching, burning, etc., see a doctor (emergency, if necessary) immediately. This is no joke – burns can be very dangerous!  

If no adverse effects are noted, a kiss to the (bandaged) boo-boo may help too!