How to Treat a Surface Burn

Minor burns on your hands and elsewhere need not be treated by a doctor.
Minor burns on your hands and elsewhere need not be treated by a doctor. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Surface burns can also be termed first-degree burns or minor burns. Surface burns may occur as the result of sunburn, touching a hot pot or pan, or while using a curling iron or flat iron. These types of burns can cause redness, minimal swelling and mild pain. Surface burns do not affect all of the layers of your skin and normally respond well to home treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Skin moisturizer
  • Bandage

Place the affected body part in cold water. Cold water can help ease the pain of the burn and reduce the amount of skin affected by the burn. Submerge the affected body part in cold water for up to 30 minutes.

Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Medication can help ease the pain and reduce swelling.

Clean your burn using water and antibacterial soap. Pat dry.

Apply petroleum jelly and a skin moisturizer to your surface burn. This will prevent your new skin from cracking, peeling or becoming dried out.

Apply a bandage to your burn. A bandage can help keep germs and bacteria from entering your skin.

Change your bandage twice a day. Clean the burn with antibacterial soap between bandage changes. Continue this process as needed for one to three weeks.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you notice yellow or green drainage coming from your burn, this may be a sign of infection. Contact your doctor.

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