The skin plays an essential role in maintaining the temperature of the body. Therefore any damage to the skin can affect that balance. The skin also protects the body from germs in the environment. The skin is composed of three layers; the epidermis which is the outer layer, the dermis in which you find the blood vessels, sweat glands, hair follicles and nerves; and the hypodermis which is where the nerves and large blood vessels are present. The hypodermis is especially involved in temperature regulation. Burns may be caused by the sun, chemicals, heat, electricity or fire. They cause damage to the skin and the underlying tissues.

Burns Picture

Some burns may lead to minor discomfort, while others may turn into a life-threatening condition. The damage caused by a burn depends on the location and depth. The amount of body area involved will also determine the severity of a burn. Minor burns can be easily treated at home through simple measures such as applying anesthetic lotions or aloe vera gel. Deeper burns and those that cover larger areas of the body require medical attention.

Symptoms of Burns

The common symptoms of burns include:

  • Redness around the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Pain that may range from mild to severe depending on the extent of damage
  • Moistness
  • Blistering
  • White skin which is waxy to the touch
  •  Blackening or charring of the skin in case of severe burns
  • Burns can be classified into four categories based on the degree of damage they cause;
  • First degree burns affect the epidermis or the outer layer of skin. They result in symptoms such as pain and redness. First aid treatment is usually effective in treating these burns and they are likely to heal within a few days.
  • Second degree burns may affect the epidermis or dermis. They lead to redness, swelling and pain. These burns also cause the skin to appear moist. Blisters may form and can lead to severe pain. Second degree burns that affect the deeper layers of skin may lead to scarring.
  • Third degree burns affect the epidermis, dermis and the underlying tissue. They may cause the skin to appear white and leathery. These burns can damage the nerves and may lead to numbness.
  • Fourth degree burns are severe burns which affect the nerves, muscles and bones beneath the layers of the skin. The skin may become black and charred. In some cases, the nerves suffer significant damage and hence the individual may not experience any pain.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention in case of severe burns. Call for emergency assistance in case the following symptoms occur:

  • Burns that involve large areas of the face, hands, feet or other major parts of the body.
  • Second degree burns which are large in size
  • Third and fourth degree burns
  • Breathing trouble
  • Inhalation of smoke
  • Weakness or severe pain

It is also advisable to see your doctor if you experience increased swelling, pain or discharge in the affected area or if you suffer from a high fever. Burns that do not seem to heal or those accompanied by new symptoms should also be examined by a doctor.

Causes of Burns

Burns develop on the skin when there is exposure to high temperatures. Burns may be caused by the following substances;

  • Hot liquids
  • Steam
  • Fire
  • Any hot object
  • Electricity
  • Sunlight
  • Radiation
  • Chemicals
  • Friction

Severe burns can result in various complications such as;

  • Burned areas of skin may be prone to developing bacterial infections. In some cases, the infection may even enter the bloodstream.
  • Widespread infection throughout the body can lead to organ failure.
  • Burns can cause damage to the blood vessels and lead to reduced blood volume.
  • When the skin is injured, the body can lose heat. When there is rapid heat loss, the body temperature can drop to a dangerously low level.
  • Inhalation of smoke can damage the airways and lead to difficulty in breathing. Smoke can also damage the lungs.
  • Burns can lead to severe scarring.
  • Severe burns can lead to the formation of scar tissue in the bones and joints. This can hamper normal movement.

Remedies for Burns

First aid is essential no matter what kind of burn you are dealing with, and in the case of minor burns, home treatment alone may suffice.

  • When you suffer a burn, the first step should be to extinguish the fire or remove the cause of the burn. Also remove any clothing or jewelry from the affected area.
  • Place the affected area in water. Avoid using ice or very cold water as this can cause excessive and rapid cooling and lead to further damage. Use water that is at room temperature.
  • Apply anesthetic lotion to the burned area to soothe the discomfort and prevent the skin from drying up. Avoid using ointments as they can retain the heat within the tissues and may aggravate the condition.
  • Wrap a gauze bandage around the affected area taking care not to put too much pressure. This will alleviate the pain and also serves to protect the sensitive area.
  • If the pain is unbearable, you can take an over-the counter pain medications.
  • Avoid breaking the blisters as this can lead to an infection. If a blister breaks on its own, cleanse the area and then apply an antibiotic cream and cover the area with a bandage.

You can also make use of the following natural remedies for burns. Keep in mind that most natural remedies for burns have no valid support from scientific research. While some of these remedies may help facilitate healing, some could even aggravate the condition. Always seek medical attention when dealing with more severe burns.

  • One of the most popular home remedies for burns on skin is honey. Apply honey to the burned area and cover with a bandage.
  • Yogurt is an effective burn treatment home remedy. Apply yogurt on the affected area and leave it on for 20 minutes. It helps to cool down the area and relieves discomfort.
  • Lavender is among the most beneficial home remedies for burns on hands. Apply a small amount of lavender essential oil directly to the burn. You can also mix lavender oil with honey or aloe vera gel and apply to the burn.
  • Aloe vera is one of the most common home remedies for first degree burns. Cut a few aloe vera leaves and extract the pulpy gel from them. Apply the gel directly on the affected areas. This will soothe the skin and will also promote proper healing.
  • Placing a piece of onion over the burnt area is known to be helpful in relieving pain and redness.
  • Place the affected area in whole milk for about 15 minutes.
  • Egg whites can be used to treat minor burns. Beat the egg white and then apply to the burnt skin.
  • Applying diluted vinegar to the burns helps in healing.
  • To prevent scarring after a burn, break open a capsule of vitamin E and apply the oil to the affected area.

Diet for Burns

It is important to follow a healthy and balanced diet in order to enable proper healing of burns. Individuals who suffer from widespread burns require an increased supply of nutrients. The diet must provide you with adequate fluids, potassium and sodium, as they are necessary for healing. They help the skin to retain moisture and prevent blistering in case of second degree and third degree burns. The process of healing also requires protein and essential minerals. Zinc is an important mineral that aids in tissue repair. It can be obtained from foods such as yogurt, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Vitamins A and C help in preventing infections. You should avoid drinking coffee if you have suffered any burns, because it works like a natural diuretic and depletes fluids from the body. Also avoid drinking alcohol as it causes the increases the stress on the kidneys and contributes to dehydration. Water and other fluids are vital to individuals who suffer burns as dehydration can worsen the condition. Besides water, you can also consume broths or soups as they will help to balance the fluid levels in the body. You can even drink tomato juice, as it is a good source of vitamin C and also contains zinc. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices may also be added to the daily diet.


  1. Leila Cuttle, John Pearn, James R. McMillan, Roy M. Kimble, A review of first aid treatments for burn injuries, Burns, Volume 35, Issue 6, September 2009, Pages 768-775, ISSN 0305-4179, 10.1016/j.burns.2008.10.011.

Suggestion for Burns

In order to prevent common burns from occurring, take the following measures;

  • Keep hot liquids, hot food, matches and chemicals out of the reach of children
  • Do not leave items on the stove unattended
  • Protect your hands with oven mitts when handling hot utensils
  • Do not smoke inside the house
  • Change the batteries of your smoke detectors on a yearly basis
  • Always check the water temperature before washing or bathing

Burns Treatments - more information
Burns - Frequently asked questions
33 Burns remedies suggested by our users
suggested by Ed on Friday, December 26, 2008

Immediately after a burn cut a tomato in half and rub it on the burn area.

remedy for preventing burn swelling of skin
suggested by Yahuza on Saturday, June 14, 2008

First of all add a small quantity of water and add to powdered salt. Make it wet and apply it on the burnt area, without allowing the salt be washed out my water till it gets dry on the skin, it helps the effected place to be safe without swelling and forming sore.

Stop the burn
suggested by RICH on Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mustard works very good on oil burns. It takes the burn out. Cover well and let it dry, repeat if needed.

suggested by Mike on Friday, March 7, 2008

Cut up a raw potato wet it and hold it on the burn it will draw the heat out.

Burns Treatments. More...