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Cold Yellow Mustard Relieves Burn

The pain of a household burn can be eased by applying cold yellow mustard after the immediate first aid of cold water.
Cold Yellow Mustard Relieves Burn
A bottle of yellow mustard with white background

We learn so much from our listeners, readers and visitors. They like to share the results of the home remedies that others have recommended. One of the most popular remedies is yellow mustard to ease the pain of a burn.

Yellow Mustard for a Burn:

Q. A couple nights ago I accidentally grabbed the metal handle of a pot right out of the oven. The pain of the burn was intense.

I immediately grabbed the soy sauce and poured some over the burn, with not much relief.

My husband handed me a gel ice pack out of the freezer. The pain came back as soon as I took it off.

I ran upstairs to my computer, got on the People’s Pharmacy website and found the yellow mustard remedy. I immediately got the jar from the fridge, put a generous amount of mustard on the burn and wrapped it with gauze bandage. Relief was immediate. By bedtime, the pain was completely gone and the burn was barely pink.

The next morning, my hand looked and felt perfectly normal–no pain, no discoloration. If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I’d never believe anything so improbable could work.

Keep It Simple:

A. We first heard about this remedy from a listener to our radio show. He recounted a time decades ago when his twin brother fell against a wood stove. They were far away from medical assistance, so his grandmother slathered the burn with cold yellow mustard. There was no blistering.

We want to emphasize that cold water or ice water-not ice-should always be first aid after grabbing a hot handle or similar misfortune. Other remedies such as soy sauce or yellow mustard should not be used until the skin has been cooled with water. We’re glad you also got relief from yellow mustard. A severe burn should always be treated as a medical emergency.

Some people have wondered if brown mustard or fancy Dijon mustard will work as well. From what we hear from readers, cheap yellow mustard works best.

Mustard in a Glove for a Burn:

Here is another innovation we heard from a reader:

Q. During a power outage, I burned four fingers while removing hot glass from a kerosene lantern. I first used cool water, then soy sauce without much relief. I quickly went to your website and searched on burns. I found the mustard remedy.

I put on a sterile plastic glove and squirted yellow mustard in the fingers and left this on for an hour. Immediate relief!

A. We’re glad this remedy helped. Cool or cold water is first aid for a burn, but many readers have told us that following this up with yellow mustard or soy sauce can greatly ease the discomfort. A caller to our radio show recently described using plain table salt on the burn, leaving it on until it cakes off.

Still other people have been enthusiastic about applying Elmer’s white glue after cooling the burn in water. We are not quite sure why any of these work, but glad the popular mustard remedy helped you. Your innovation of putting mustard in the fingers of a plastic glove is one that other readers may wish to adopt. Make sure that you treat any burn with cold water first, and determine if it is serious enough to require emergency medical treatment.

Abigail liked this idea:

“Thanks for the tip of using a (disposable) sterile plastic glove. Having my palm slathered with mustard is awkward. The yellow mustard did take away the pain. Worked better than aloe vera. First I grabbed an ice pack out of the freezer. I think it did stop the burn. Will try immersion in cold water next time.”

Louie B. Free did, too:

“Dumb move: grabbed a VERY hot cast iron pan that had been on the stove for awhile
Smart move: grabbed yellow mustard from the fridge
Results: I JUST remembered that I did that !!! no pain…much gain !!!!”

VSD wrote:

“I suffered a severe steam burn one evening. Cutting open a piece of aloe vera, I taped it onto the burn. The pain soon disappeared. However, after keeping it on overnight, there was absolutely no sign of the burn the next morning. Complete healing. I now keep aloe vera plants for use in case of a burn; also, when they grow large and fan-shaped, they’re a very attractive plant.”

Susan commented:

“I burned the back of my calf on a hot tailpipe – the burn was very painful and large. There was no water or ice to apply to the burn for three hours. As soon as I got home, I remembered the yellow mustard remedy I’d heard about on your show, so I applied a liberal amount to the back of my leg and wrapped up the area with plastic wrap. The pain subsided within minutes, and never came back. The burn did not blister as it normally would have, and after a month or so, there was no mark or scar.”

Revised March 4, 2018

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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