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Burn Remedies

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Updated April 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Natural burn remedies can help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by burns. In some cases, natural burn remedies may also help promote healing of the skin. But while natural burn remedies may offer certain benefits, it's important to remember that some types of burns require medical attention.

Benefits of Natural Burn Remedies

Studies suggest that a number of natural remedies may aid in the treatment of burns. Here's a look at some key research findings:

1) Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can speed up healing of first- to second-degree burns, according to a research review published in Burns in 2007. (Red and painful, first-degree burns tend to swell slightly and turn white when you apply pressure to the skin. Typically producing blisters, second-degree burns are thicker, very painful, and may cause the skin to turn red, splotchy, and swollen.)

To soothe pain and stave off blisters and scarring, apply aloe vera gel directly to the burn once or twice daily until it's fully healed.

2) Honey

Several studies show that applying honey to burnt skin may help promote healing and reduce inflammation. For example, a 2009 report from The New Zealand Medical Journal reviewed eight studies (with a total of 624 subjects) and found that honey was effective in treating first- or second-degree burns. Most of the studies involved the use of unprocessed honey covered by sterile gauze.

According to a 2011 report from The Scientific World Journal, honey may help heal burns by stimulating the immune system.

3) Calendula

A flower found to possess anti-inflammatory properties, calendula shows promise in the treatment of burns. In a 2008 study from the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, for instance, researchers found that applying calendula extract to the skin helped promote healing in rats that had suffered burn injuries. However, more research needs to be conducted before calendula can be recommended as a burn remedy.

Should You Use Natural Burn Remedies?

Although self-treating burns with natural remedies can be helpful in some cases, other burns should be treated by medical professionals. For instance, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends seeing a doctor if you experience:

  • a burn on your face, over a major joint (such as the knee or shoulder), or on your hands, feet, or genitals.
  • a first- or second-degree burn that covers an area larger than two inches in diameter.
  • a third-degree burn. (A type of burn that damages all layers of the skin, third-degree burns leave the skin white or charred. Due to damage in the nerves and tissue, third-degree burns may cause little or no pain.)

If you're in doubt about the severity of your burn, contact a medical provider immediately. You should also contact your medical provider if your burn fails to heal following treatment with natural burn remedies.

Sources

Al-Waili N, Salom K, Al-Ghamdi AA. "Honey for wound healing, ulcers, and burns; data supporting its use in clinical practice." ScientificWorldJournal. 2011 Apr 5;11:766-87.

American Academy of Family Physicians. "First Aid: Burns". December 2010.

Boukraâ L, Sulaiman SA. "Honey use in burn management: potentials and limitations." Forsch Komplementmed. 2010 Apr;17(2):74-80.

Chandran PK, Kuttan R. "Effect of Calendula officinalis Flower Extract on Acute Phase Proteins, Antioxidant Defense Mechanism and Granuloma Formation During Thermal Burns." J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 Sep;43(2):58-64.

Maenthaisong R, Chaiyakunapruk N, Niruntraporn S, Kongkaew C. "The efficacy of aloe vera used for burn wound healing: a systematic review." Burns. 2007 Sep;33(6):713-8.

Molan PC. "Potential of honey in the treatment of wounds and burns." Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2(1):13-9.

Wijesinghe M, Weatherall M, Perrin K, Beasley R. "Honey in the treatment of burns: a systematic review and meta-analysis of its efficacy." N Z Med J. 2009 May 22;122(1295):47-60.

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