How To Treat a Thermal Burn – First Aid

1. Cool Burn

  • Hold burned skin under cool (not cold) running water or immerse in cool water until pain subsides.
  • Use compresses if running water isn’t available.


2. Protect Burn

  • Cover with sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Do not apply butter, oil, lotions, or creams (especially if they contain fragrance). Apply a petroleum-based ointment two to three times per day.


Be extra careful when making open wood fires. Never use petroleum/gasoline or any flammable substance to get the fire started. Always ensure that children are supervised wherever an open fire is present. Lastly, be sure that the fire is 100% extinguished and that the coals are cooled down before taking your eyes of your kids! Stepping onto a lump of blazing coal is a huge culprit for serious burning wounds.


3. Treat Pain

  • Give over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve).

4. When to See a Doctor

Seek medical help if:

  • You see signs of infection, like increased pain, redness, swelling, fever, or oozing.
  • The person needs tetanus or booster shot, depending on date of last injection. Tetanus booster should be given every 10 years.
  • The burn blister is larger than two inches or oozes.
  • Redness and pain last more than a few hours.
  • The pain gets worse.
  • The hands, feet, face, or genitals are burned.


5. Follow Up

  • The doctor will examine the burn and may prescribe antibiotics and pain medication.