Treating Burns at Home

Most burns occur at home or work, and the proper response is important both to helping the patient and ensuring proper treatment of the injury. 

First, stop the burning process by removing the source of the burn. However, do not endanger yourself. 

For example, do not try to grab a live electrical wire. 

The next step is to remove any jewelry or clothing around the burned area. This will help prevent further damage if swelling occurs. If clothing is stuck to the burn site, do not peel it off. Instead, contact emergency services immediately.

For initial treatment of minor burns, run cool tap water over the burn for at least 20 minutes. For more severe burns, seek medical treatment immediately.

Do Not

  • Do not apply butter, grease, honey or powder. 
  • Do not use cotton balls or wool to clean a burn. 
  • Do not apply ice directly to the burn.


  • Cover the burn with a dry, sterile cloth 
  • Use ibuprofen for pain management

Identifying Severity Of Burns

WARNING: Graphic images below.

First Degree

Red and painful with no blistering of skin, such as a minor sunburn.

Second Degree

Red and painful with blistering—sometimes significant blistering—of the skin. Injuries will maintain a wet appearance.

Third Degree

Injuries have a charred appearance, and will be dry to the touch. They will have a leathery or white appearance, and be numb. Treatment of injury will require skin grafting.

Fourth Degree

Injuries will be catastrophic, involve muscle, tendon and bone, and most often require amputation as treatment.