How To Treat Cooking Burns During The Holidays

How To Treat Cooking Burns During The Holidays

December 12, 2018

Kitchen mishaps like burns and blisters are more common during the holiday season. You’re cooking more and stressing more, which means you’re likely not paying as much attention to the hazards around you. You might accidentally touch a hot pan or get hit by a splash of boiling water, and these minor burns can cause some serious damage to your skin.

Don’t let your holiday fun and excitement turn into a painful trip to the hospital. Here’s everything you need to know about treating and preventing burns this holiday season.

How to treat a burn

  1. Know the severity.

Most kitchen burns aren’t too serious. But you want to take note of how the burn looks and feels in order to determine the appropriate course of treatment.

First-degree burns are superficial on the epidermis (top layer of skin). These burns are typically accompanied by pain, redness, and minor swelling. You could get a first-degree burn by accidentally bumping your arm into a hot pan or picking up a hot coffee mug. This is the most common type of kitchen and holiday burn.

Second-degree burns will also have pain, redness, and swelling, but they may also cause blisters and thickening of the skin. These burns extend to the dermis, which is the bottom layer of skin. You could get a second-degree burn if you press down on an oven rack or spill boiling water on your leg, for example.

Third-degree and fourth-degree burns reach down into the tissues and destroy the skin. The skin usually appears white and charred. There may also be numbness or loss of sensitivity in the area. If this is the case, call 911 immediately.

Know when to seek medical treatment:

  • Burn covers a large area
  • Severe blistering
  • Extreme pain
  • Loss of sensation or numbness
  • Burn on face, eyes, hands, or feet
  • Burn involves chemicals or electricity
  • Smoke inhalation along with fire exposure
  • Burn isn’t healing properly after two days

When in doubt, go to the hospital.

  1. Rinse under room temp water.

If you have a first- or second-degree burn, the first thing you should do is rinse it under lukewarm water. You don’t want the water to be too hot or too cold, which can both cause deeper burning. Instead, use room temperature water that is mildly cool. Hold the burned area under gently flowing water for five to ten minutes.

Do not apply ice to the burn. This can actually cause deeper tissue damage and lead to long-term scarring.

If you were wearing clothes that got burned to your skin, don’t try to pull the clothes from your skin. Rinse the area under cool water first, and the cloth fibers should gently start to separate from your skin for easier removal.

  1. Wash the area with mild soap.

After you’ve thoroughly rinsed the area with water, you will want to cleanse it with a mild soap. This can help prevent a serious infection since a burn is considered an open wound.

Any soap usually works in this case, as long as it is mild and unscented. An antibacterial soap can help get rid of bacteria before it settles in your skin, but any mild soap can do the trick.

You want the soap to be as natural as possible to avoid irritation or chemical burns. We recommend a natural castile soap if you have it available.

Tip: Make sure you wash your hands before washing the burn. You don’t want germs from your hands spreading to your wound.

  1. Apply antibiotic ointment.

After the area is thoroughly washed and cooled, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or herbal salve. This helps get rid of any bacteria, prevent infection, and speed up the healing process.

Don’t apply antibiotic ointment on an open wound, like a broken blister. Consult a doctor first.

Try out BurnZone. From kitchen burns to sunburn to blisters, BurnZone uses 1% lidocaine to help relieve pain quickly and get you back in the game for the holidays.

  1. Apply aloe.

Aloe vera has been used for centuries to treat burns and speed up the healing process of wounds. It’s naturally anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and it also helps promote circulation of the affected area.

You want to apply pure aloe vera to get the greatest effects with the lowest risk of irritation. If you have an aloe vera plant at home, break off one of its leaves, and apply the gel directly from inside.

If not, you can find aloe vera at a local health food store. Choose at least 90% aloe gel. Aloe lotions typically don’t have much aloe gel, and they can actually contain chemicals that can be damaging to burns. Stick to the pure stuff.

  1. Cover with sterile gauze.

After cleansing and treating the wound, you want to protect it from potential infection. Wrap the affected area loosely with sterile gauze. This is especially important if your burn has caused broken or exposed skin.

If you don’t have sterile gauze, you might want to gently wrap it in a clean cloth until you can get gauze.

  1. Rewash frequently.

As the burn heals, you want to keep the area clean and dry. Burns can actually continue to do damage for up to 48 hours after the initial impact, so you will want to continue to keep an eye on it.

Every four to six hours, you should gently remove the gauze, wash with lukewarm water and soap, and reapply ointment. This will ensure your new layer of skin doesn’t get infected or stick to the gauze bandage. If you find that the gauze is sticking to the wound, dampen it with a sterile saline solution to help the gauze separate from the wound before removal.

  1. Take anti-inflammatories.

Ask your doctor if it’s okay to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen. This can help reduce swelling, redness, and pain, so you’ll feel more comfortable during the healing process.

We recommend asking your doctor first, though, because these medications can interact with certain health concerns. You may also not want to take these painkillers if you have a serious burn, because you may not be able to appropriately monitor the severity.

What not to do for burn treatment

Don’t use butter.

An old wives tale says that butter is good for a burn, but it’s not. Butter can actually retain heat, which can make the burn even worse. Butter can also be contaminated with bacteria that can cause an infection in the wound.

Instead of butter, use natural aloe vera gel or an antibiotic cream.

Don’t use steroids.

Don’t apply a steroid cream to the area. Steroids agitate the damaged cells, which can worsen blisters and deepen the burn.

Instead, opt for a product like BurnZone. With 1% lidocaine, you’ll have effective pain relief that’s safe for burns.

Don’t break blisters.

If your burn is blistering, you might be tempted to break it open. But open blisters are highly prone to infection, and they’re more likely to scar. Your body blisters as a defense mechanism, so it’s important to let your body heal itself.

If the blister breaks on its own, wash the area with mild soap and water and cover with sterile gauze.

How to prevent burns

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a designated area for hot plates and dishes.
  • Keep kids, pets, and elders away from ovens and stoves.
  • Use kitchen timers to keep track of multiple meals cooking at once to avoid burning.
  • Always use appropriate oven mitts and towels when touching hot dishes.
  • Adjust oven racks before turning the oven on.
  • Have a temperature-resistant surface available to set pots and pans on when you move them from the stove or oven.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen.
  • Keep the batteries in your fire alarm fresh.
  • When cooking on the stove, turn pot and pan handles toward the wall to prevent incidents with passersby.
  • Keep hot items away from the edge of tables and off of tablecloths (which can be accidentally pulled down).
  • Be aware of Christmas tree fire hazards and safety.
  • Monitor the fireplace and all hot appliances.
  • Learn about holiday fire safety tips here.

Are you prepared in the case of a holiday burn? Make sure your first-aid kit includes BurnZoneso you’re always ready for any accident that comes your way!


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