Burns happen all the time, especially for people who sunburn easily, work in food preparation, or are otherwise high risk for burns. While most burns are minor and do not need medical attention, they can be painful and, depending on their location, may interfere with your normal daily life. There are a number of natural remedies for burn pain that can help make the healing time a little bit easier, as well as help avoid complications as a result of the burn.
First aid for burns
For first-degree burns, the best thing you can do is immediately run cool water over the burn until the stinging subsides. Wrap it loosely with medical gauze to prevent further injury, as well as limit the pain by preventing air flow over the raw nerve endings. Always use only cool water and never ice, because this could slow the blood circulation to the already-damaged area.
The process is the same for smaller second-degree burns, though extra caution should be taken to prevent the blisters from breaking. Broken blisters open up freshly-injured areas to infection, and may also cause scabbing or scarring. The skin underneath a broken blister will generally be very raw and there will be a lot more pain if it breaks too early.
Ointments and pain relief
While most sources caution against using burn butters and ointments, the one natural remedy that has been used for centuries on burns is aloe vera gel. In many studies, aloe helped relieve burn pain and speed healing. This is an especially useful remedy for sunburns, quickly cooling the burn and fading the appearance of red skin. Cool showers may also help soothe sunburns.
Natural oral pain relief remedies, such as hot peppers or other good sources of capsaicin, may be preferable to taking over-the-counter NSAIDs to relieve burn pain. Clove, willow, evening primrose, and ginger are also popular natural pain remedies that may be helpful in relieving pain without the need for OTC pharmaceuticals.
When to see a doctor
Third-degree burns are most easily recognizable by a black or ashy white color, and often their complete lack of pain. These burns need emergency medical attention immediately. Second-degree burns larger than about 1″ in diameter should also get medical attention. One of the most common complications of burns are secondary infections, so anyone with an immune deficiency should consult a physician even for first-degree burns. Chemical burns should always be seen by a physician, as they require specific care based on the type of chemical.