When you were younger and touched the stove, curling iron, maybe you had a firework accident or stayed out in the sun too long, you probably received a first-degree burn. And more than likely, your mother put butter, ice, something cold from the refrigerator or freezer, cold water, ointments or sprays on the burned area. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, mom's heart may have been in the right place but none of these should be used on a first-degree burn.

What is a First-Degree Burn

First-degree burns affect the outer layer of the skin. First-degree burns can be very painful and cause redness and swelling.

Cool the Burn

Run cool water over the burned area. If that's not possible, gently use cold compresses. Generally, the pain will subside in about 10 minutes but in some cases may take longer.

What to Use On a Burn to Promote Healing

If you search the internet for what to put on a first-degree burn, the suggestions are vast. Topical antibiotic ointments, creams, sprays, butter, the list goes on and on. Fact is, the best home treatment for first-degree burns is simply inexpensive petroleum jelly two to three times per day. Aloe Vera is also good for burns but may not offer the same protection as petroleum jelly.

Bandage or No Bandage

A nonstick, sterile bandage offers protection for the area to heal without irritation. If the area is blistered, covering the area with a bandage is okay. Remember, do not pop the blisters.

What to Take for Pain

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen work well.  (Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, Aleve or Naprosyn)

What to Avoid

Avoid sun exposure to the burned area.

How Long Do First-Degree Burns Take to Heal

Most first-degree burns do not require seeing a doctor and heal in under 20 days depending on the location of the burn.

When to See a Doctor

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, see a doctor if the burned area is very large or if the person is elderly or an infant. If you think the wound is infected or more severe than first-degree, see a doctor immediately.

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