How to Use Aloe Vera to Treat Burns
Burns are a common skin injury of varying degrees of severity. They can be caused by electricity, heat, light, the sun, radiation, and friction. Aloe vera has been used since antiquity to treat skin afflictions and reduce inflammation. It is used and recommended by doctors to treat minor, first-degree burns and can be used on some second-degree burns. If you get burned, follow a few steps to assess the severity of the burn and treat it with aloe vera.
Preparing the Wound
Get away from the source of the burn.Whenever you find yourself burned, you need to get away from the source of the burn. If you got burned by an electrical appliance, turn off the appliance and move the skin away from it. If you were burned by chemicals, get away from the spill as quickly as possible. If you got a sunburn, get out of the sun immediately.
- If your clothes were covered with chemicals or burned in the process, remove them as carefully as possible without hurting the wound. Do not pull clothing away from your skin if it sticks to the burned area; call emergency services or seek immediate medical attention.
Determine the severity of the burn.There are three different degrees of burns. Before you treat your burn, you need to know the difference in the burns. A first-degree burn affects only the top layer of skin, is usually red, can be painful, and is dry to the touch.A second-degree burn extends further into the under layers of skin, may look "wet" or discolored, often includes white blisters, and generally causes pain.Third-degree burns extend all the way through the skin and sometimes into surrounding tissue. They look dry or leathery, and may include black, white, brown, or yellowed skin at the burn site. They cause swelling and are extremely severe, even though they often hurt less than more minor burns because the nerve endings have been damaged.
- If you are unsure whether a burn is first- or second-degree, call a doctor. If you think it is anything other than a first-degree burn, see your doctor. Second- and third-degree burns can be life-threatening if not properly treated.
- Only continue if you know your burn is first-degree or minor second-degree. Others should not be treated with this method unless a doctor tells you it is okay.
- Never treat a third-degree burn, or any open wound, with aloe. The aloe does not allow the burn to dry, which makes it impossible to heal.
Cool your wound.Once you have assessed the state of your burn and removed yourself from the injurious situation, you can start to cool your wound. This helps pull the heat from the wound and calm the skin before you apply aloe. Run cold water over the burn for 10-15 minutes as soon as possible after the burn.
- If you cannot reach the area with a tap or shower, soak a cloth in cold water and place it over the burn for 20 minutes. Replace the cloth as its temperature rises with another newly soaked cloth.
- If you're able to, bathe the burned area in cool water for at least 5 minutes. You can soak the area in a sink or bowl of cool water.
Clean the wound.Once you have cooled the wound, you need to clean it. Take some soap and rub it in your hands. Gently rub the soap over the burned area, cleaning it. Rinse the area with cool water to remove to soap suds. Pat dry with a towel.
- Do not rub the wound because it can cause the skin to get even more irritated or the skin to break if it is sensitive or starting to form blisters.
Treating the Burn with Aloe Vera
Cut aloe from a plant.If you have an aloe plant in your home or near where your burn occurred, you can use it to get fresh aloe. Remove a few meaty leaves near the bottom of an aloe vera plant. Cut off any spines on the leaves to avoid getting poked. Cut the leaves in half down the middle and score the insides with your knife. This will release the aloe from the leaves. Collect the aloe on a dish.
- Repeat until you have enough aloe to cover all of your burn.
- Aloe vera plants are very easy to maintain. They grow in almost all indoor climates, and in warm outdoor climates. Water it every other day and make sure you do not overwater it. Offshoots from the plant can be easily potted to grow a new plant.
Use store-bought aloe.If you do not have an aloe plant, you can use over-the-counter aloe gel or cream. It can be acquired at most general stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores. When purchasing a brand, make sure the cream or gel is 100% pure aloe vera gel, or as close as possible. Some products have more than others, but you should get the one with the highest possible amount of aloe.
- Look at the ingredient list of the gel you buy. Some that claim that they are "made with pure aloe gel" only have 10% aloe.
Apply a generous amount to your wound.Take the aloe you extracted from the plant or pour a generous amount of the gel into your hands. Rub it gently onto the burned area, making sure not to scrub the affected area or rub too hard. Repeat 2-3 times a day until the burn is no longer painful.
- You only have to cover your wound after the aloe vera has been applied if it is in a place that might get rubbed against or hurt without a protective covering. In this case, use a clean bandage or gauze that will not leave any residue behind once it is removed.
Take an aloe vera bath.If you want another alternative to simply applying aloe vera gel, you can take an aloe vera bath. If you have an aloe plant, boil a few leaves in water. Take out the leaves and pour the water, which may be brown in color, into your bathwater. If you have gel, pour a generous amount into your water as you fill up the tub. Lay in the lukewarm water infused with aloe for 20 minutes to soothe your burn.
- You can also buy bubble bath with aloe in it, but it is not recommended to use these products on burned skin. They may have other chemicals that might dry out your skin instead of hydrating it.
See a doctor.Sometimes, aloe will not be enough to heal a burn. You should monitor your burn while you are using aloe to see how it progresses. You should see a doctor if your burn gets worse or becomes more irritated by the aloe. You should also seek medical attention if your burn persists for more than a week and seems to not get better.
- If your burn has increased pain, swells, develops pus, or you run a fever, you may have an infection and you need to see a doctor.
- You need to see a doctor immediately if you get an infection, have trouble breathing, have a low body temperature, or experience bone or joint problem on the site of the burn.
- You should also see a doctor immediately if you have burns on your face or hands.
QuestionI got burned with a soldering iron, and I rubbed Aloe Vera onto it, three hours later, there's a clear(ish) bubble where I got burned. What is this?
Naturopathic DoctorNaturopathic DoctorExpert AnswerThat is the normal blister that forms after a burn-- it is not a reaction to the aloe vera. Gently keep applying the aloe vera on and around the blister. Don't try to open the blister--let it break on its own-- and then keep applying the aloe vera.Thanks!
QuestionI burnt myself on my chin drinking coffee out of thermos. The pharmacy gave me a gel. The burn has formed a scape and bleeds when I clean it. Should I be using something else?
Naturopathic DoctorNaturopathic DoctorExpert AnswerTry applying the aloe vera get and then perhaps using a bandage to protect your chin. It sounds as if cleaning it is tearing off a scab. The scab forms to protect your skin, so only clean it very gently-- don't rub on the scab so hard that you rub it off. After cleaning, re-apply the aloe vera and use a bandage to cover the wound. Avoid touching it, other than gently cleaning and gently applying the aloe vera.Thanks!
QuestionI tried taking off an Indian ink tattoo with lemon and salt, and now I have this burn. What do I do to help treat it and not scar too badly?
Naturopathic DoctorNaturopathic DoctorExpert AnswerIt is possible that you have a chemical burn. Your skin may be very sensitive and the acid in the lemon may have been too strong. The salt may have also irritated the skin. You can use aloe vera on this type of burn-- it will hydrate and protect the skin so that it can heal.Thanks!
QuestionDoes aloe vera plant work on burned skin from tea tree oil?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. The same thing happened to me when I first started using tea tree oil. Apply aloe liberally on the affected areas and you'll see noticeable results in no time.Thanks!
QuestionCan it be used on a small burn on my hand?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. The aloe vera takes away the heat from the burn. Apply it as needed (usually 1-3 times per day).Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if the burn still hurts after applying the cream?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost likely it's a brand new burn so it won't immediately feel better. The burn will still hurt, but the aloe should help to ease the pain and rehydrate it.Thanks!
QuestionWill aloe vera remove dark circles around my eyes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAloe vera is known for its hydrating and healing properties. It might help moisturize the skin around your eyes, but it will not remove the dark circles.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if my burn is 2nd degree or 3rd degree?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA 2nd degree burns will affect the epidermis and the dermis (upper and lower layers of skin). They may cause pain, redness, swelling, and blistering. A 3rd degree burn goes through the dermis and affects deeper tissues. It will result in a white or blackened, charred skin that may feel numb.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use aloe for burn scars from bleaching cream?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can carefully try it, but there is no evidence that aloe can work on those specific types of scars.Thanks!
QuestionCan I apply aloe after seven days to a hot water burn on my hand?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can, though keep in mind it will take little time to have a smoother skin. Apply at-least 3 times a day.Thanks!
I applied garlic on my face and it got burnt. Can I use aloe to heal it? I have a plant in my home.
I burned my index finger on my left hand, I burned with the small door of a cast iron wood stove, when I took my finger away it looked white, why is this, and its rough and hard in this area.
Can aloe Vera gel prevent future blistering of a bad sunburn?
- Sunburns are sensitive to sunlight even after they have healed. Use increased sunscreen protection for 6 months following the burn to avoid skin discoloration and further damage.
- Also seek medical attention if you have large burns or burns to the face.
- Never use sunburned aloe vera plant gel or leaf on your sunburn as it can cause a bad rash and small blister looking affliction and thus will cause the sunburn to be even more painful. If you have accidentally done this and currently have the rash etc, you can find a healthy aloe vera plant and use the gel to continue to heal the sunburn and rash. You can google "symptoms of sunburned aloe vera plant" or "how to know if aloe vera plant is healthy" to know the difference between healthy and sunburned aloe vera plant.
- Do not apply other household substances, such as butter, flour, oil, onions, toothpaste, or moisturizing lotion on a burn. This can actually make the damage worse.
- Severe second degree burns with blood blisters may turn into third degree burns and need to be treated by a doctor.
- Go to the doctor immediately if you suspect the burn is worse than a first-degree burn. It should be treated by a doctor and cannot be treated at home.
- Take a dose of ibuprofen or other NSAIDs to calm swelling in tissues and help relieve pain.
- Never apply ice to a burn. The extreme cold can cause further damage to the burn.
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