Q. Should we run cold water on every type of burn?

Answered by
Dr. Shanza Ikram
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
Published on Nov 11, 2019

Hello doctor,

I would like to know the first aid for burns. Should we run every type of burn under cold water and for how long? Shall we put butter, milk, toothpaste and/or lavender oil on a burn as people believe these things to be true? Does it depend on the severity of the burn, or is this a terrible idea? If someone's clothes or jewelry are stuck to them after or as a result of the burn, do you take them off or leave them? When is a burn considered serious enough to require either emergency treatment or follow-up medical treatment? What should be done immediately after a burn whether from heat, chemicals or electricity? How long does it take for a burn to heal and how often do they leave a scar? Is sunburn a kind of burn?

Dr. Shanza Ikram



Welcome to icliniq.com.

I have gone through all your queries and the answers are:

Burns should not be run under cold water. Water with room temperature will be fine. It should be done only for a few minutes until the pain eases for minor burns. Butter, milk or lavender oil are effective and can be used, as most of them are alkaline and alleviate the burning sensation. If someone's cloth or jewelry stuck to them, immediately take off them.

Burn involving facial areas or head and neck or genitalia or any burn involving more than 20 percent are serious and should be dealt in an emergency. If burn happens wash with normal saline and apply Silver Sulfadiazine cream. Consult a local doctor immediately.

Healing depends on the level of burning, either restricted to epidermis or dermis or subcutaneous tissue. If upper-level epidermis is involved it takes two weeks to heal. Deep involvement will take longer duration to heal and may leave a scar. Sunburn is a first-degree burn in most cases.

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