How to Deal with Kitchen Burns
No matter your level of cooking expertise, there is one devastating experience that every home cook has at some point in their life experienced: a cooking induced burn. While this common accident is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s hard not to endure a brief period of self-loathing after this often easily avoidable wound enters your life. How did I let this happen? Why am I like this? When will I ever learn? Calm down–these things happen, and when they do, sure, it’s painful, but you (and your ego) can make it through this trying situation.
Okay, let’s get something straight. We’re talking about minor kitchen burns (first- and maybe some second-degree wounds). If your skin has been subjected to an open flame for an extended amount of time, this is much more severe than coming into brief contact with a hot pan. In serious cases such as this, you’ll probably need to consult with a medical professional (A.K.A. not me).
Once you’ve established that your injury does not require formal medical attention, it’s important to take immediate action in order to alleviate pain while also working to speed up the healing process. The intuitive reaction to a burn for most people is ice, right? While it might initially feel like it’s counteracting the burning sensation, placing ice on a burn is actually going to worsen the situation. Ice can further damage the already fragile, burned skin, as well as slow blood flow to the tissue. Instead, go for a bowl of cool water, and submerge the affected area for about 15 minutes. It’s better to do this rather than run water over the wound, as that will apply additional pressure to the area. The cold water will help with pain and reduce swelling without further damaging the tender skin.
Some people might tell you to rub butter on the wound, however this is not a wise approach, either. This will only worsen the pain that you’re experiencing moments after the burn because the fat in butter will gradually slow down the heat from leaving your skin. You’ve already put yourself through the maddening experience of accidental, self-inflicted pain, so why draw out the process any longer than it needs to be?
In the days following your kitchen blunder, it’s important to keep a close eye on the burn. Be diligent about gently washing the area with soap and water, and if necessary, gently rub ointment over the burn and wrap with a gauze bandage. This will reduce the risk of infection. You can also apply aloe vera to the burn just like you would after crisping up under the sun in order to alleviate pain and speed up the healing process. Another at-home remedy that can help to lessen swelling and act as a natural antifungal and antibacterial treatment is honey. Who knew?!
Lastly, let’s discuss about what we’re all dying to talk about...blisters! As gross and impossible-to-ignore as they are, it’s important not to pick at them or pop them, as this will only increase your chances of infection. If the burn was especially harsh and you’re experiencing pain in the following days, an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drug, such as Advil, can also reduce swelling and pain. However, if you’re not seeing any improvement over the next couple days, it’s best to go consult a doctor.