Ouch! I've burned my hand on a hot pan — now what?

Posted by Leanna Munoz, N.P.
February 05, 2016

Ouch! I've burned my hand on a hot pan — now what?

There are many myths about how to treat a minor burn. Do I pop the blister? Do I use hot or cold water on it? Do I cover with bandages?

One of the most important things to do is to act fast and follow these tips for minor burn treatment:

  • Use cool (a little colder than room temperature) running water for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pain eases. A cool, clean, damp towel works, too.
  • Swelling may occur, so remove tight items, such as rings or clothing, from the burned area.
  • Do not break the blister if it bigger than your little fingernail. If the blister does break, clean it with mild soap and water. Apply antibiotic ointment, and then cover it with a bandage or gauze.
  • Applying moisturizer, aloe vera gel or other pain relief gels may provide temporary relief. Don’t slather on butter, as butter retains heat and it could be contaminated with bacteria.
  • Some over-the-counter pain reliever also may be beneficial. Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or acetaminophen can help ease the pain. 
  • It’s also important to ensure that you have had a tetanus shot within the last 10 years, as you can get tetanus through an open wound in the skin.

You should see your health care provider:

  • If the symptoms begin to get worse and larger blisters develop. Large blisters are best removed, as they rarely will remain intact on their own.
  • If the burn covers a large area of the body or infection-like signs begin to show, such as oozing from the wound, increased pain, redness and swelling.

Call 911 for emergency medical help for major burns. You can protect your child from burns by following these safety tips from Mayo Clinic.

Leanna Munoz is a nurse practitioner in Express Care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.



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