- First Aid Sprains & Strains Slideshow
- First Aid Essentials Slideshow
- Take the Trauma and First Aid Quiz
- Trauma and First Aid FAQs
- Patient Comments: Burns (First Aid) - Experience
- Patient Comments: Burns - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Electrical Burns - Experience
- Patient Comments: Chemical Burns - Experience
Quick GuideFirst Aid: Properly Caring for Wounds
First aid for burns
For major burns (second and third degree burns)
- Remove the victim from the burning area, remembering not to put the rescuer in danger.
- Remove any burning material from the patient.
- Call 911 or activate the emergency response system in your area if needed.
- Once the victim is in a safe place, keep them warm and still. Try to wrap the injured areas in a clean sheet if available. DO NOT use cold water on the victim; this may drop the body temperature and cause hypothermia.
For minor burns (first degree burns or second degree burns involving a small area of the body)
- Gently clean the wound with lukewarm water.
- Though butter has been used as a home remedy, it should NOT be used on any burn.
- Rings, bracelets, and other potentially constricting articles should be removed (edema, or swelling from inflammation may occur and the item may cut into the skin).
- The burn may be dressed with a topical antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Neosporin. Silvadene (silver sulfadiazine) topical is the preferred agent for most burns, and is available over the counter in many locations.
- If there is concern that the burn is deeper and may be second or third degree in nature, medical care should be accessed.
- Tetanus immunization should be updated if needed.
For electrical burns
Victims of electrical burns should always seek medical care.
For chemical burns
- Identify the chemical that was involved.
- Contact the Poison Control Center in your area or your local hospital's Emergency Department. The United States National Poison Hotline is 1-800-222-1222. You will be automatically linked to the nearest poison control center. Many chemical burns may be treated with local wound care. Some chemicals can cause life- and limb-threatening injuries and need emergent intervention. It is recommended that the hotline phone number be stored on your cell phone as well as posted at home and at the workplace.
- Victims with chemical burns to their eyes should always seek emergency care.
Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American Board of Surgery
"First aid and treatment of minor burns" National Institutes of Health