In your culinary journey, you will probably experience a burn at least once. When that happens, it’s important that you keep calm and know what to do. How to treat a burn from a hot pan? Read on to learn first-aid treatment, what to avoid, and other things to remember.
What is a burn?
A burn is one of the common injuries that people encounter while in the kitchen. It happens when, in the case of cooking or baking, heat damages your skin tissue.
Different things can cause a burn in the kitchen such as a hot pan, boiling water, oil splash, and many more.
No matter how careful you are, accidents such as getting a burn will happen. In this article, we will zero in on one of the usual causes of kitchen burns — a hot pan — and what you can do to remedy it.
Whether you accidentally touched a frying pan on the stovetop or a baking pan fresh from the oven, the burn is an ouchie you should address.
To treat your burn, you first have to determine how severe it is. Burns are classified based on their severity: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree.
A first-degree burn is the least severe type as it only affects the topmost layer of the skin which is the epidermis. This usually happens when you accidentally touch a hot pan for just a second or two.
With a first-degree burn, you will feel pain in the affected area and it will most likely turn red with minimal swelling. This type of burn is pretty superficial and will heal quickly.
When the damage reaches the dermis or the lower layer of your skin, you have a second-degree burn. You get this burn when you press or hold a hot pan for a couple of seconds.
Second-degree burns are more painful than first-degree burns and these will cause redness, swelling, and blisters which may not appear immediately.
This type of burn can either be mild or severe. You can care for your mild second-degree burn at home and it will not cause so much trouble. On the other hand, severe second-degree burns can be quite excruciatingly painful and might require the intervention of a doctor to prevent infection.
The most severe among the types of burn is the third-degree burn which damages your epidermis, dermis, and fat. It is severe enough to affect hair follicles, sweat glands, and nerve endings.
You are less likely to get a third-degree burn from a hot pan and more likely from hot substances such as oil, sauces, or boiling water.
Because it goes beyond the outer layers of your skin and affects your nerve endings, you surprisingly might not feel any pain at all. In fact, some say second-degree burns hurt more.
Affected tissues need to be removed and you need to seek professional medical help in remedying this burn.
Check out this video differentiating burns by severity:
How to Treat a Burn from a Hot Pan: First-aid
If you’ve touched or pressed a hot pan by accident and finished assessing the severity of your burn, here is what you can do as first-aid to your minor burns.
Remember that this is how you treat a burn from a hot pan when it’s either first or second-degree. For third-degree burns, please contact your doctor right away.
Step 1: Submerge in cool water
Once you see and feel the burn, act quickly! Turn on your tap and put the affected area under running water. Make sure that it is cooler than room temperature but not cold. If you have a basin, you may also submerge your burn there.
For first-degree burns, you can let your burn stay under cool water for 5 minutes. On the other hand, for second-degree burns, you can let it stay for 10 to 20 minutes.
How long you keep it submerged varies on a case-to-case basis, but you can stop once the pain eases.
Alternative: Use a cool compress
Should running water or a basin be unavailable, you can use a damp cloth by put it over your burn.
Be sure that it’s clean and still cool, not cold as a too cold compress might irritate your burn. Press the cool compress against your burn for 5 to 15 minutes.
Important: Remove accessories near the burn area such as rings
If the burn area is in your finger or anywhere with accessories, carefully remove the item before the burn starts to swell.
Step 2: Wash with water and mild soap
Once you have soothed your burn, it’s time to clean it with water and soap. Avoid using fragrant soap and use mild antibacterial soap instead.
Wash your burn carefully, making sure that you don’t hit and burst blisters if there are any. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. You have just burnt yourself by accident so don’t be rough when you disinfect.
Step 3: Apply antibiotic ointment
After cleaning your burn, it’s time to apply antibiotic ointment or cream so there won’t be infections. You can find ointments like Bacitracin or Neosporin in your local drugstore.
Feel free to skip this step if what you have is a very minor and superficial burn with just redness.
Step 4: Cover with a bandage
After doing all the steps, get a bandage and prepare to cover your burn with it. Don’t use the fluffy cotton ones as these will probably stick to your burn. Rather, use sterile gauze.
Keep it covered loosely and do not add pressure on your burn. The thing about bandages is that they help reduce pain, keep air off your burn, and protect blisters from popping by accident.
Step 5: Monitor your burn
These are the first-aid steps on how to treat a burn from a hot pan. Once you do all of the steps previously stated, you just have to watch your burn and monitor its healing process.
First-degree burns do not usually worsen, and they heal quickly. On the other side, second-degree burns may further develop in the next 24 to 48 hours and you might notice blisters or swelling.
How to Treat a Burn from a Hot Pan: Home Remedies
Aside from medical creams and ointments, you may also use other household products to soothe the pain in your burned area.
A natural wonder, people call aloe vera a “burn plant” as it is effective in healing minor burns. It is anti-inflammatory and helps soothe your burn. Put a thin layer of aloe vera on the affected area to cool it down.
You may use pure aloe vera directly from the leaf or you may also get aloe vera gels from personal care stores. Either works just fine.
Lotion or moisturizer
You may feel a stinging sensation on the burn after a while especially when it’s second-degree. The moisturizers and lotion in your beauty rack are a good topical treatment that will provide you relief from the pain of your burn.
More than a natural sweetener, honey is also a natural source of relief for burns. Honey has really good anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.
Use it topically by applying it to the affected area and securing it with gauze. Honey can get sticky so gauze will help prevent it from sticking to surfaces.
What to Avoid in Treating a Burn from a Hot Pan
Apart from knowing what to do and which items to use, it’s also crucial that you are aware of what products to avoid using. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding burns and this includes items that are said to be beneficial but are not recommended.
One of the popular old wives’ tales when it comes to burns is to apply toothpaste to your burn. Do not do this at all costs as this is not backed by research or studies.
As a matter of fact, you may be putting yourself at risk by simply applying toothpaste to your burn as it may cause infection. Use burn ointments, lotions, honey, or aloe vera to be sure.
While it is true that a cool compress can alleviate pain, something cold like ice won’t give the same result. If you put ice or cold water on your burn, you might irritate it and later on regret this action.
Since you are already in your kitchen, you might consider putting butter on your burn because some say it soothes burn pain. Do not slather butter on your burn because you might make the condition worse.
Butter has good heat retention that’s why it serves as an alternative to oil. By putting butter on your burn, you might even make it feel hotter. Also, this can serve as an invite to a bacterial infection.
As mentioned previously, butter is not a good option in soothing burn pains. In the same manner, oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and more so cooking oil should not be applied to burns.
In cooking, oil is used to help transfer heat from the cooking pan to your ingredients. The logic is the same for oil and burns as oil keeps your burns warm, doing the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Reminders on How to Treat a Burn from a Hot Pan
Keep in mind these things when treating your burn from a hot pan.
Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
As much as you can, avoid letting your burn be hit by direct sunlight. Your burned area is quite sensitive so it will be vulnerable to the heat given off by the sun.
Don’t burst your blisters.
Blisters are fluid-filled parts of your skin that may develop after your skin gets burned. They may be tempting to pop but do your best not to pop them as this may cause infection.
Drink medication if the pain persists.
If the burn stings so bad that you cannot handle it anymore, drink over-the-counter pain relievers. These drugs will help soothe the pain of burns.
See a doctor if you feel that it is more than a minor burn.
Does your burn look alarming? If you think it is more than a first or second-degree burn and cannot be treated at home, immediately call your doctor for help.
Don’t attempt to do home remedies for third-degree burns as they require professional medical help to cure.
Final thoughts: Learning how to treat a burn from a hot pan
Knowing how to treat a burn from a hot pan is very crucial especially if you spend so much time in the kitchen. Minor burns are easy to care for if you have the right knowledge on first-aid and what to avoid. For third-degree burns, seek professional help right away.
Michael Johnson is the founder of The Pan Handler, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.