11 Surprising Home Remedies for Burns

The cure to relieve burn pain, speed healing, and prevent scarring is as close as the next cabinet over. Read on for the best natural home remedies to heal a burn.

By Taylor Shea adapted from Kitchen Cabinet Cures (Reader's Digest Association Books)
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    Never use ice on a burn!

    It can restrict blood flow to the skin, and further damage tissue. Instead, immediately run cool water over the burn to stop it from spreading, and keep it there for at least 20 minutes if possible. What else works? Aloe, probably the most well known remedy for burns, will stop pain and inflammation, reduce swelling, and stimulate skin growth and repair. But if you don't have any on hand, these other home cures should help.

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    Mint toothpaste

    For when you accidentally touch something hot without a potholder, or get splattered by something that's boiling, keep a tube of white, minty toothpaste in the kitchen as a home remedy to relieve a minor burn. First, run the scalded area under cold water, then gently pat it dry with a paper towel and cover with a layer of the toothpaste.

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    Vanilla

    For minor burns, reach for vanilla extract. Use a cotton swab to gently dab vanilla onto the burned skin. The evaporation of the alcohol in vanilla extract will cool the burn, alleviating pain. 

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    Tea bags

    Black tea contains tannic acid, which draws heat from burns to help make them less painful. Place two or three cool, wet black tea bags on a burn, using gauze to hold them in place. 

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    Vinegar

    White vinegar contains acetic acid, a component of aspirin that can help relieve the pain, itching, and inflammation of a burn. It is also an antiseptic and astringent, so it will help keep your burn from becoming infected. Vinegar also draws heat from the burn, helping to dull pain naturally. Soak paper towels in diluted vinegar to create a soothing compress or use cotton swabs to gently dab the burn with vinegar. 

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    Honey

    Honey is a natural antibiotic, which helps to prevent your burn from becoming infected. It has a natural pH balance that is inhospitable to bacteria, so once applied topically, it can also kill any existing bacteria or infection lingering on the skin. Honey will also cool the burn, relieve pain, and help the skin to heal.

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    Milk

    The fat and protein content in milk soothes burns and promotes healing. Soak the burn in milk for 15 minutes for quick relief. Full-fat, whole-milk yogurt can also help cool and hydrate your parched skin. 

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    Oats

    With its skin-soothing properties to reduce inflammation, oats are particularly useful when your burn is healing and you're tempted to scratch it. Add a cup of oats to bath water and soak for 20 minutes to soothe a large burn. For smaller irritations, add some oats to a small bowl of water and soak the affected area. Air dry your skin so a thin layer of oats remains, further reducing itching. For added relief, toss some baking soda into the bathwater. Bicarbonate of soda helps soothe skin inflammation.

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    Coconut oil

    Coconut oil is an excellent source of skin-healing vitamin E and it also contains fatty acids that are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which help keep your burn from becoming infected. If a scald has left a nasty mark on your skin, one home remedy suggests adding lemon juice to the coconut oil before massaging it into the mark. The acidic properties of lemon juice will help lighten the scar while the coconut oil helps it heal.

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    Lavender oil

    A French chemist discovered the healing power of lavender oil in the early 1900s. When he severely burned his hand in a lab accident and plunged it into a vat of lavender essential oil, the oil eased the pain and his burn healed quickly. Mix 1 teaspoon of pure lavender essential oil into about 2 ounces of water in a misting bottle. Shake and mist burned skin lightly as often as needed. Tea tree oil and witch hazel are also effective remedies for a minor burn.

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    Vitamins C and E

    Vitamin C promotes wound healing and the production of collagen, the base material for new skin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps repair and protect your skin. To speed the healing of a burn, one home remedy is to eat foods rich in vitamins C and E or take 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E for a week or so after your burn. You can even break open a vitamin E capsule and apply it directly on the burn to help it heal and prevent scarring.

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