Over the years we have received many different kinds of home remedies for minor burns; from cold soy sauce and fresh onion juice to to comfrey and honey. By far the most effective treatment remains cold water – for as long as you can stand it.

Think about cooking an egg. If you want it medium boiled you watch the timer and when it is cooked it just right, you rinse it in cold water. That stops the cooking process. Hot things don’t cool immediately; they gradually become less hot. So if you have suffered a minor burn, running cold water over it will stop the cooking process of your skin and reduce the inflammation. Seconds count, so the sooner you get the skin under cold water the better. When we have ignored what we thought was a minor burn we have often regretted our inaction when our skin eventually blistered. When we immediately put a bad burn into a pan of ice water for 15 to 30 minutes we rarely even notice redness.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association published in 1960 made a strong argument for “Ice Water as Primary Treatment of Burns.” The study followed 150 patients who had suffered electrical, heat, or chemical burns. Those who had immediate cold-water immersion experienced a 75 percent reduction in burn severity and total treatment time. Of course any serious burn requires immediate medical attention.

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  1. Linda

    The other night I burned my finger on the metal of a frying pan. It was so painful and I ran my finger under cold water and remembered the article about using honey on a burn. I lathered the honey on my finger and kept it on there for about half an hour. The pain subsided in a couple of minutes and the redness was completely gone in half an hour. Now I will always have honey nearby.

  2. Kate M.

    As an Army Lieutenant Colonel, Family Nurse Practitioner and avid listener to the “People’s Pharmacy” Podcast, yesterday I had the opportunity to try one of the home remedies.
    After clumsily sustaining a 3″ grill burn on my left arm, I dove into the refrigerator, slathered mustard over the site, covered with a papertowel and wrapped with Saran Wrap.
    When I undressed the site overnight, the burn although mildly discolored was no longer painful to touch.

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