How to Treat a Cooking Burn

by A. Elizabeth Freeman
Run cool water over a burn for 10 minutes.

Run cool water over a burn for 10 minutes.

You're preparing dinner for the family when you accidentally grab a hot pot without a potholder, or boiling water splashes onto your hand while you're draining the pot of pasta. A cooking burn will most likely be either a firs-t or second-degree burn where only the first or second layers of skin are injured. You can treat small burns like these at home, but see a doctor if the burn is over 2 inches in size or is on your face.

Items you will need

  • Bowl
  • Aloe vera cream or antibiotic cream
  • Sterile gauze
  • Pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
Step 1

Hold the burned area under cool running water for 10 minutes or until the pain subsides. You can also fill a bowl with cool water and submerge the burned area into the water for 10 minutes. The cool water helps reduce the swelling as it dissipates the heat from the burned area.

Step 2

Gently pat the burn dry with a clean cloth and apply a layer of aloe vera or antibacterial cream.

Step 3

Cover the burned area with a strip of gauze to protect it and to keep any resulting blisters from popping.

Step 4

Change the gauze daily for a second degree burn and reapply the cream. Wash your hands before changing the bandage or applying the cream.

Step 5

Take acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen if the burn continues to cause pain.


  • Make sure your tetanus shot is current, because a burn can lead to tetanus if it gets infected, according to Family Doctor. A first-degree burn should heal within a week while a second-degree burn may take up to three weeks to heal. The burn will itch as it heals; avoid the urge to scratch because popping the blister may raise the risk of infection.


  • Don't use ice water or ice cubes on a burn as it may make the burn worse and lower your body temperature too much. Butter doesn't help burns and can cause infections.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images