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How do I Choose the Best Burn Ointment?

Autumn Rivers
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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One of the best ways to help a burn heal is by placing ointment on it after dousing the area in cold water. Once the area dries, burn ointment will help the skin feel better, but there are a few types available. Choosing the best ointment will depend on what kind of burn it is, as well as whether you need some pain reliever applied to the area, too.

For a first degree burn, the best choice is typically aloe vera ointment. It is not usually necessary to get a prescription medication, or even one with antibiotics, as this is the mildest type of burn. Aloe vera is known for having a gentle, cooling effect that should provide some pain relief while healing the area. You can buy a bottle of pure aloe vera, or you can cut open the leaf from an aloe vera plant for a free, natural treatment. You should use this product for at least a few days after the burn, though you can use it as long as you need to feel some relief in the area.

If you are dealing with a second degree burn, you likely have some blistering, which can be treated with a burn ointment that is a bit stronger than aloe vera. The main type of ointment available for second degree burns is called silver sulfadiazine. It is known for its ability to heal while preventing infection at the same time, since it is an antibiotic cream. You need to slather your skin with plenty of it for best results, and then place a gauze bandage over the area to speed up healing. Note that for a third degree burn, you should seek medical help immediately, since the burn treatments on the market cannot usually help much for severe burns.

Many people are nearly as concerned with eliminating the pain associated with burns as they are preventing infection and helping the area heal. If you have a first degree burn, you do not usually need an ointment with pain reliever, and should instead take ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen for the pain. If you have a second degree burn, however, you may choose to use gel with pain reliever mixed into it. The typical pain reliever is lidocaine, which should take away some of the discomfort of the burn. You do not need a prescription to buy it.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for The Health Board, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By anon988117 — On Feb 08, 2015

Silver/plus antiseptic healing cream will heal burns very quickly.

By fify — On Feb 16, 2013

@SarahGen-- I don't think petroleum jelly or lotion will provide any benefits or help burned skin heal faster.

I don't know if you know about this but there is an Australian burn cream ointment made from pawpaw fruit that's very good.

My aunt who lives in Australia brought me some recently and I had burned my finger while baking cookies. I applied it and the burning sensation went away.

By SarahGen — On Feb 15, 2013

Can I use petroleum jelly or regular skin lotion on a burn?

By literally45 — On Feb 14, 2013

@pastanaga-- I agree with you, aloe vera is the best.

I don't have any aloe vera plants but I keep a bottle of aloe vera gel with lidocaine at home for burns and insect bites. I'm notorious for burning my hands while cooking and I've tried many skin burn ointments. I have not found anything that works as well as aloe vera gel with lidocaine.

Thankfully, I only get first degree burns. When I do, I hold my hand under the faucet for a minute and immediately apply the aloe vera gel. It feels better immediately and a few minutes later, I forget that I had a burn in the first place.

I'm very hard to impress when it comes to medications, but this is one that I can vouch for. It's also great for insect bites in the summer, especially for bee stings.

By pleonasm — On Jun 06, 2011

In a pinch, if you don't have a burn ointment handy, nappy rash ointment will work almost as well. I like bepanthen, which is billed as a nappy rash cream and an antiseptic cream, but anything similar will do.

I first found it when I got a tattoo and it was what they told me to put on it during the healing process. Since then I always keep a tube handy, and it tends to make burns feel better, stop them from itching and also help them heal faster.

By pastanaga — On Jun 05, 2011

Aloe vera really is the best thing you can use to treat mild burns and the sooner you apply it the better. Especially for sun burn.

It is pretty easy to grow. It's a desert plant, but I live in a fairy cold city and even in the winter my little aloe plants get along just fine outside. They don't grow very fast in the winter, but they make up for it in the summer.

You can just get a couple from your local gardening center, and remember to keep watering them. They don't need particularly good soil, but they do need very good drainage. Eventually they will sprout off little baby plants which you can give to friends.

I've also been told that aloe vera is very good for stomach complaints, but it tastes so bitter I couldn't bring myself to eat any.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for The Health Board, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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