The First Thing You Should Do If You Burn Yourself

Whether you were cooking dinner or using a curling iron, chances are you've probably burned yourself a few times before. Feeling that sharp, fiery pain can leave you wondering what to do next. Generally, first-degree burns are minor and can happen after touching something hot, such as a straightener or barbecue grill. 

If you end up with a first-degree burn, the first thing you should do is cool it. Dermatologists recommend applying a cool, wet compress to the burn or running it under cool tap water. Treating a burn with ice or cold water can actually cause the severity of the burn to worsen, leaving you with more tissue damage. While treating a burn with ice is not recommended, dermatologists say cool (not cold) water can help alleviate some pain associated with the burn. This can be done for about 10 minutes, or until you've noticed the pain lowering. 

However, you'll want to avoid running any water over a burn if the wound site is open. Doing so is essentially an invitation for bacteria to breed inside of your open burn wound.

Treating a first-degree burn

Once you've treated a minor burn with cool tap water, your next step is to remove any jewelry near the burn area. Petroleum jelly or lotion with aloe vera can be applied to your burn area at least 2-3 times a day for pain relief after the burn has initially cooled. Some previously used butter to treat a burn, however, treating a burn with butter is not recommended by dermatologists. Using a greasy substance, like the beloved dairy product, can introduce bacteria. 

It's also possible for burn blisters to appear, but it's important to not pop them, as they're vital to your recovery process. Instead, treat a minor burn properly by covering it with a sterile bandage, such as a gauze bandage, and then consider taking over-the-counter pain medication

A first-degree burn, or a minor burn, can typically heal on its own with time, or about 1-2 weeks. There are a couple of factors to consider, however, when determining if you should call the doctor. If the burn area is big or the burn victim is young or an elderly person, give the doctor a phone call.