Well, I really needed to add this segment to my burn talk so here is the MOST IMPORTANT crisis medicine feature of a burn discussion when discussing a time when help is NOT on the way:
Home and Herbal Remedies
As we in preparedness community know, our traditional medicine practices may not be available some day and I feel it is important for everyone to be able to have SOME knowledge regarding alternate burn treatments using some things you have either in your home or in your garden.
First I would like to remind everyone that the first step to treating burns in a crisis medical situation is the initial COOLING OFF treatment. As I said in OUR last show, RUN COOL WATER IMMEDIATELY over the burned area for about 10-15 minutes. Please remember NOT to use ice!! Now if the “what if happens” water may be in short supply and a BATH of cool water can be used as an alternative. This would also be a better idea is the burn is large or if it is NOT on your arms or legs.
So The first remedy is ALOE VERA, and I’m starting with this one first because most people recognize this treatment as something they heard before and STUDIES HAVE SHOWN ALOE VERA helps new skin cells form and speeds healing by up to 40%. However, I would only use this on First or second degree burns.
If you have an aloe plant, cut off a leaf, open it up and either scoop out the gel or rub the the open leaf directly on the burned area.
Reapply 4-6 times daily, with or without a bandage covering. Easy to do and fast relief are the key benefits to using aloe vera on burns, especially if the ” what if” happens.
Vinegar and Medical Preparedness
Most articles you can find on burn treatments also commonly include any type of VINEGAR as a treatment for burns. Vinegar works as an astringent and antiseptic and helps to prevent infections. When I was a kid down here in South Florida we were outside all the time and I frequently would get a really bad 1st degree burns, so my mom would use vinegar on my burns. I guess that’s why salads remind me of my childhood!
The best way to use vinegar on smaller sized burns is to make a compress with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 cool water or even full strength and cover the burn until the compress feels warm, then re-soak the compress and reapply. There is no limit to how many times you can apply the vinegar soaks. Another method is a cool bath with vinegar added. I would start with body temperature water and let the water cool off while you are soaking. Before sleep if the burn is on the central body area use a cotton t-shirt soaked in vinegar and wrung out then wear it to bed! It really helps the burning sensation when you are trying to sleep, trust me!
Another “cooling off” treatment for burns is WITCH HAZEL compresses.Use the extract of the bark, which decreases inflammation and soothes a 1st degree burn
Soak a compress in full strength witch hazel and apply to the burned area. Reapply as frequently as desired, there is no limit to witch hazel compresses.
Elder flower and comfrey leaf DECOCTIONs are also an excellent remedy for burns.
For those unfamiliar with the term DECOCTION it is ….. an extraction of the crushed herbs by BOILING versus lower water temperatures when making a tea.
The Decoctions of these plants can also be used for compresses just like the witch hazel.
However, They can also be freshly crushed or when using dried just re-hydrate first and apply directly to the burned area with a sterile gauze cover, this is also called a POULTICE.
Black tea leaves have tannic acid that helps draw heat from a burn . There are three methods for the black tea treatment:
1. Put 2-3 tea bags in cool water for a few minutes and use the water with compresses or just apply the liquidate the burned area.
2. Make a concoction of 3 or 4 tea bags, 2 cups fresh mint leaves and 4 cups of boiling water. Then strain the liquid into a jar and allow to cool. To use, dab the mixture on burned skin with a cotton ball or washcloth.
3. If you need to be mobil, make a stay -in-place POULTICE out of 2 or 3 wet tea bags. Simply place cool wet tea bags directly on the burn and wrap them with a piece of gauze to hold them in place.
Both Milk and Yogurt have been found to help cool and hydrate the skin after a burn.
Wrap whole-milk, full-fat yogurt, inside gauze or cheesecloth and use as a compress. Replace the compress as the yogurt warms on the skin.
Whole milk compress can be used the same way. Another method of application for large areas of burn is a yogurt “spa treatment” which involves spreading yogurt all over the burn then bathing with cool water after 15 minutes.
another home remedy is a Baking Soda Bath . Add 1/4 cup baking soda to a warm bath and soak for at least 15 minutes or longer if needed until the water cools off.
There are two essential oils that can be used full strength on 1st or 2nd degree burns, Lavender and tea tree oils. They help with pain due to stinging and promote tissue healing.
They can be mixed with a small amount of vegetable oil or water, or used full strength and applied all over the burned area. A bandage over the oil may be helpful when used for 2nd degree burns.
You can also make a poultice of Marigold petals pounded with olive or wheatgerm oil which can then spread over the burned area and covered by gauze or a sterile covering.
Marigold or CALENDULA is a common ingredient in skin medication and it has been proven to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects, which speed the healing of burns.
An oatmeal bath may be used to reduce itching related to healing, Crumble 1-2 cups of APPLE CINNAMON oatmeal, just kidding, use raw oats. Add them to a lukewarm bath as the tub is filling and soak 15-20 minutes. Then air dry so that a thin coating of oatmeal remains on your skin. You can do this as often as needed to reduce itching.
The next remedy is a time proven remedy according to Ancient Indian YUNANI healing art, and has been used for many centuries to treat even severe burns.
It sounds odd, but it is said to work fantastically. Here are the steps to make
1. Take a large piece of cotton WOOL OR ANY kind of PURE white cotton fabric and BURN it into ashes, I think a dutch oven would work well.
2. Use the ASH of the burned cotton and mix with OLIVE oil OR any kind of cooking oil available
3. Mix this into a thick paste and SPREAD the BLACK paste on the burned skin
4. Cover it with cling film and perhaps a loose gauze wrap to hold it all in place.
5. Add new paste everyday for a week or so depending on the severity of the burn and healing should be very fast.
Some authors have stated the Cotton ash paste is simply the best burn remedy, however others describe THE HONEY METHOD as the greatest remedy:
Honey in it’s RAW UNPROCESSED state is the best to use, because of the antibacterial activity and hydrating properties. It can be used in 1st, 2nd and if NO other medical care is available due to the “what if” happening then also used as a last resort for 3rd degree burns ( along with a high protein diet, lots of water and drink mixture of lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt in some water several times a day depending on the fluid loss from the wounds which contributes to dehydration in severe burn victims).
Ok here is how to use the HONEY METHOD:
1. Immediately after the first 15 minute COOLING DOWN treatment, apply a GENEROUS amount of honey in a thick layer all over the burned area
2.To prevent honey from oozing out cover the honey with cling wrap plastic or waterproof dressings.
Before covering the honey covered burned skin, spread honey directly onto the dressing to prevent the dressing from sticking to the skin..
Adhesive bandages can be used to hold dressings in place.
3. If the dressing begins to fill up with fluid oozing out of the wound, change the dressing. The worse the burn the more frequently the dressing will be changed.
If you used cling wrap let it stay in place for the first 48 hours then check and add more honey and recover with new cling wrap for another 48 hours, repeat this for 8-10 days, the switch to nonstick dressings.
4. DO NOT REMOVE or WASH OFF the honey for the first 20 days or earlier if healing is complete. Add more honey often and fill up any deeper areas as needed. Always have a thick layer of honey extending over the edges of the burn. You do not want any air getting to the burned skin until healing is completed. This will cut down of the infection rate also.
5.Change the dressing at least three times a day regardless of the amount of oozing fluid.
This HONEY method is one I would probably use if the “what if” happens because of it’s infection preventing properties! Remember that the greatest risk of death after a burn is INFECTION!
There are a few more remedies I want to mention but not go into detail about:
Vitamin E oil
Preparation H cream
and Yellow mustard
So there it is, a list of home and herbal remedies that you can pick from. I think most of the remedies can be made from our “STORAGE” collections or from our gardens. Be sure to read our next crisis medicine article on influenza
Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy