When to Get Medical Help
Major burns and burns affecting some age groups need immediate professional medical attention. In the case of a major burn, head to the nearest emergency room or call 911 right away. Don't try to treat the burn yourself or soak it in cool water unless the 911 operator specifically tells you to do so.
Since it's essential to prevent burn-related infections and other complications, the National Institutes of Health advises urgent medical help in these cases:
- If a child age 4 or younger or an adult 60 and older suffers any kind of burn – minor or major.
- You can't diagnose the type of burn. In that case, go ahead and treat it as a major burn.
- You experience large second-degree burns or second-degree burns on the hands, feet, face, joints, posterior, or genital area.
- You suffer third-degree burns that penetrate deep into the skin, turning it white or black. The burned area might be numb.
Although home remedies seem like ideal options, in some cases – such as using toothpaste on a burn – they might do more harm than good. If you aren't sure what to do to treat a burn, it's best to seek medical help, even if the burn seems relatively minor. Though there are easy steps to treat a minor burn at home, please remember: Save your toothpaste for your toothbrush!