Frequent Contributor Peggy Webb offers another great article, part of our Wellness series…
Natural Healing for Kitchen Burns
by Guest Blogger, Peggy Webb, Local Nourishment blog
I’m a bit of a klutz in the kitchen, and the earlier the morning or the fewer hours of sleep, the worse I get! As you can imagine, breakfast is the most dangerous meal of the day for me. But I’ve developed some coping strategies I thought I’d share with you this week.
First, a bit of terminology. A first-degree burn is like a sunburn. It is red and can have white splotches or hard patches and is accompanied by minor pain. These are also called superficial thickness burns.
Second-degree burns include blistering and can cause quite a bit of pain if the burn involves nerve tissue as well as skin tissue. These can also be called superficial partial-thickness burns.
If the skin is blackened and charred or crusted, this is generally considered a third-degree, or deep partial-thickness, burn. This kind of burn results in reduced sensation in the area, as nerve tissues are damaged beyond their ability to transmit pain messages.
Full-thickness burns include damage down to the muscle and bone and require skin grafts.
Though there are also chemical, electrical, and radiation burns, I will only deal here with steam and scalding burns, as these are the most frequent kind encountered in a real-food kitchen. As always, please see a doctor for severe burns, burns that cover a large part of the body, or injuries to the very young or very old, as their thin skin can be permanently damaged much more easily.
The first thing we experience when getting burned is, of course, PAIN! Rush to the kitchen sink and run a gentle stream of cool water over the burned area. You will probably notice the burn feels better under cool water and worse within seconds of removing it from the water.
Do not reach for the butter, ice, or even aloe in these early moments. Oils trap heat on the surface of the skin and can allow the burn to penetrate for a much longer time, while ice can stick to already damaged skin and tear it, injuring it further.
If the burn is on a fingertip, fill a coffee cup with water and soak the injury. I find a 20-minute soak lets me remove my finger for several minutes before the pain returns. As long as the burned area is relatively small, cool water offers your best hope of relief. If the burn covers a large area—like a sunburn might—soak in a cool tub no more than 20 minutes, as hypothermia can be a dangerous side effect of burning. For larger areas or body parts that can’t fit into a soaking bowl, like the middle of your arm or leg, you can use a wet compress over the area.
This method of immediate cooling can reduce the severity of burns by a degree. In other words, burns that would have blistered may only turn red, whereas burns that would have remained red may heal in just hours. Burns need fresh air to heal quickly, so unless the burn is oozing (which makes it a more serious burn capable of becoming infected) it should not be covered.
After several hours, apply the pure gel from the inside of an aloe vera plant leaf. Please do not use aloe vera gel from a bottle that has preservatives or other additives, as burnt skin is very delicate and easily injured.
Other herbal remedies include St. John’s wort herb oil or calendula salve. Look to the refrigerator as well—mashed avocado is very soothing and healing, and coconut oil has both healing and anti-microbial properties. But be sure the burn is completely cooled before applying anything other than cool water to a burn.
One of the few over-the-counter products I keep in my first-aid kit is a burn pad. It’s made of plastic and contains water held in a base of polyethylene oxide. The gel sheet holds water up against the burn, which provides both pain relief and hydration for the parched skin. The plastic itself is LDPE, recycle number 4, which does not contain BPA and is not known to leach any chemicals or hormone disruptors. However, because the pads contain polyethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, and because damaged skin more readily absorbs synthetic chemicals than healthy skin, I prefer to use these products on the rare occasion that a cool-water soak or wet compress is not possible.
Peggy Webb is a homemaker, mom of six and blogger. She’s not a doctor, nutritionist or other health care professional, just a student nutrition and herbal health. Her articles are not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your own trusted healthcare professionals about your concerns and questions. Visit Peggy’s blog at LocalNourishment.org.