Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Burn Treatments

As a continuation of my series of “Unfortunate Events”, I spent a few days last week in the Cornell Burn Unit at New York Hospital.  I know what you are thinking: Yes, I did just finish physical therapy on a fractured knee. Mmmhmm, I did hurt my foot after a triumphant return to the gym and taking my mileage from the recommended “walk a minute/ run a minute” to running 3 miles straight in the course of a week.
All of that is better now thank you, but last week I did a doozy of a job burning my hand. I will spare you the gory details, and trust me they are quite gory, but after a few days of pretending it was all fine, I ended up at the doctor, the emergency room and yet another emergency room, before finally being admitted to the hospital.

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I burn myself a lot. As anyone who cooks like I do will tell you, burns are a part of the process. I inevitably have a couple of little marks on my arms as reminders of great meals past.

This one however, was more serious.

The moral of the story, is that if you have an injury that is large, extreme and doesn’t stop hurting/bleeding/swelling/oozing, do as I say, not as I do, and head to the doctor immediately. Many ERs now have a fast track area that deals with these non-life threatening emergencies that require treatment that often can’t be provided by your local doctor. (IV antibiotics, X-rays and MRI’s, wound treatment and stitches: you get the idea!) The first visit had me in and out in 45 minutes, a world record for a New York City ER.  If you think it might be serious, go see a doctor!!

Today’s kitchen tips are for those little pesky burns that don’t require either hospitalization or shots of morphine just to take a shower and get them bandaged (for reals!).  These are quick remedies often found in the kitchen to soothe those mildly singed areas and help prevent scarring or infection.

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A teabag can act as a soothing compress, and the tannic acid present in black tea helps to draw the heat from the burn. Soaking a teabag in cool water and applying it directly to the area should provide some relief. Some advocate using the tea leaves as a poultice, and dabbing them directly on the burn before covering the area with gauze.

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When honey is applied to a burn, it draws out fluids from the affected area, and acts as a disinfectant. It also keeps the skin soft, and supple as it heals.
Apply honey to the wound, and cover it with a gauze bandage. Change the bandage several times throughout the day.

Vinegar has antiseptic properties that can cleanse the burn and help dull the pain. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and use it clean the area. Placing a cloth soaked in the mixture directly on the wound is said to help ease the pain.

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Rubbing a raw potato over a burn is said to reduce pain and prevent blisters. Apply the cut side to the burn immediately, for optimum effects.

Milk is another food with soothing properties.  Soaking the affected area in milk or plain yogurt is recommended to take the burn out of the wound. Repeat every few hours, being sure to use fresh dairy products each time.

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Freshly cut onions are also thought to be a good treatment, as the quercetin and sulphur compounds help to relieve the pain, and prevent blistering. Work quickly, as the onion loses its medicinal properties soon after it is cut. You may not smell very good, but people swear by the results!

Remember to keep the burn clean, and moist at all times. The doctors at the Burn Unit I was in are big fans of Bacitracin, which keeps the wound clean, infection free, and moist while it heals. And hopefully, mine will!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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