Better Nutrition

NATURAL Rx Beat the Heat

Soothing, natural ways to treat superficia­l burns

- by Vera Tweed

Soothing home treatments for superficia­l burns.

Burns can vary from minor ones, after being out in the sun a bit too long or briefl y touching a hot pan, to those that are life threatenin­g. The deeper a burn penetrates, the more serious the damage.

Superfi cial, or fi rst- degree, burns affect only the surface of the skin, causing redness, infl ammation, and some brief discomfort. And skin may itch or peel slightly as they heal. These are the most common types of burns and include most sunburns. They can safely be treated at home.

Somewhat more serious seconddegr­ee burns penetrate the skin to a deeper level and cause blisters, pain, and swelling. Skin gets red, but turns white if you put a little pressure on it.

Third- degree burns penetrate beneath the skin and can destroy nerves, blood vessels, fat, and muscle tissue. They require immediate medical attention.

Home Treatment

When a minor burn occurs, at once run cool water over it or soak it for 5– 10 minutes, or apply a cool- water compress to the area, but don’t use ice, butter, or oil, as these can damage skin. When done immediatel­y, cool water treatment helps the area heal, but it won’t deliver the same benefi t later on.

Next, apply an antibacter­ial ointment, and a dressing that won’t stick to skin. The objective is to prevent infection, since burned skin has no defense against bacteria. If an infection does develop, it can turn a minor burn into a dangerous injury. Changes in color, texture, or thickness of the burned area, or a discharge of pus, indicate an infection, which requires immediate medical attention.

Natural Healers

Natural antibacter­ials, including aloe vera, propolis, calendula, and medicinal honey, can be applied after

an initial cool soak to help heal minor burns. In the case of propolis, a cream was tested on burn patients against a prescripti­on burn cream ( silver sulfadiazi­ne), at the University of Texas medical school. Both treatments prevented infection equally well, but patients treated with propolis suff ered less infl ammation and healed more quickly.

Vitamin E is known for reducing scars, including those from burns. If you don’t routinely take it internally, start if you get a burn, as it will help healing and reduce scarring. For more scar reduction, vitamin E oil, cream, or ointment can be used once skin has healed. However, all the natural remedies that prevent infection also help reduce scarring. Key nutrients ( see Shopping Guide, p. 32) will help skin heal from within.

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