The At-Home Remedies You Should Never Use On Burns

Mount Sinai notes that specific herbal remedies can work wonderfully to relieve everyday aches and pains or help heal minor wounds and scrapes. Homemade solutions can be inexpensive and convenient, making them a good choice for households on a budget or DIY diehards. When it comes to more severe injuries, however, some traditional DIY solutions can cause more harm than good.

How do you know if a burn is minor enough to treat at home or severe enough to require medical attention? According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), first-degree burns, like sunburn, are the mildest and can generally be cared for at home, provided you use proper care procedures. Other first-degree burns include burns from heated hair styling tools, kitchen pots and pans, and accidentally touching a hot stove or oven. First-degree burns only affect the very top layer of skin, but they can be quite painful and may scar if not treated immediately and adequately. If the burn occurs on an infant or older adult, covers a large area, or if you suspect the burn may be more severe, the AAD advises seeking medical treatment at an emergency room immediately.

Don't use these items on a burn

One of the oldest folk remedies for burns is a kitchen staple: butter. Butter likely became a popular salve for burns in the past due to its wide availability and ease of use. Applying soft butter to a burn may temporarily relieve the sting. Still, Winchester Hospital warns butter seals in the heat, potentially worsening the burn. As a non-sterile substance with no antibiotic or antiseptic properties, it may even contaminate the wound.

Egg whites and toothpaste are other everyday household items you should never apply to a burn. "Raw eggs sometimes have bacteria in them, salmonella for example," says Dr. Juan Rivera via WebMD. "You definitely don't want that sneaking into your body through an open wound," But what's wrong with toothpaste? The AAD points out that, like eggs and butter, toothpaste is not a sanitized product. It can contain bacteria that may enter the burn and cause infection.

One at-home remedy you should never use on burns may shock you: ice or ice water. Even though the icy cold may numb the pain, the University of California San Diego School of Medicine warns that soaking a burn in ice water is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The potential for adding frostbite damage on top of a burn and further damaging the skin is too great a risk for temporary relief.