This may seem like an odd interlude in my series of posts about our big cross-country move. I assure you, it is not. I stumbled upon this simple and inexpensive way to care for burns while caring for my own burn only two and a half weeks ago.
I will confess that I am not what one would call graceful. I can have two left feet, seem like a bull in a china shop, and trip over myself walking on flat ground. Needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, some more preventable than others. I have recently had the unique opportunity (note my positive thinking) to have experienced two second degree burns within only a few years of each other.
The first burn I acquired on our honeymoon. Being too young to rent a car without the extra “under 25” penalty, my husband and I opted to rent a moped. It was much cheaper and oh so much more glamorous. Until, of course, I climbed off the moped and rested my calf against the muffler. Never having experienced any significant burn, I was completely unaware of how to care for a burn. My husband and I rushed into the nearest store and bought some gauze, tape, aloe, and burn cream.
After a couple days we returned home, and I saw a doctor about the proper care of my burn. He suggested I use an antibacterial cream (Bacitracin or Neosporin) in a thick layer under gauze that I should change three times daily. Each time I changed the bandage I was to gently wash the burn with water and antibacterial soap.
This sounds like pretty standard wound care to most out there, I’m sure. I will tell you it was excruciatingly painful. Washing a second degree burn with soap made me really want to scream. Every single time I did it. The antibacterial cream was my only relief.
I didn’t learn until later (after having researched care for my most recent burn) that the antibacterial soap was continuously drying out the healing skin, as well as removing some of the precious new skin that desperately needed to heal. Using this method my burn healed in about 3 1/2 – 4 weeks to a point that I no longer needed to bandage the area.
More recently, while my husband was in Wisconsin for a job interview, I experienced my second second-degree burn. With our house on the market, I’d been keeping a good eye on our lawn, and I knew it would need to be mowed before my husband could come home to mow it. One afternoon, while the girls were napping, I got the big Snapper out of the shed and took care of most of the front lawn. I ran out of gas before I could finish all of it, and I hoped to just come behind with the push mower to finish up. As I pushed the Snapper out of the way I felt my left knee go numb. Walking back into the house for a drink of water I saw singed skin and two large white spots on my knee; there was no pain yet.
Familiar with the feeling of a second degree burn, I quickly got inside to run my knee under lukewarm (not cold!) water. The pain came shortly after, and I had to take a few pain killers to get around the house that day.
As I researched online, I found some intriguing methods for caring for burns naturally. I chose to combine a few of these methods to make a salve that I used in lieu of the antibacterial cream. This salve included items that I already had in the house, and it was fairly inexpensive to make.
First, upon realizing I had burned myself on a DIRTY lawn mower muffler, I realized I had to clean out the wound a bit. I diluted some apple cider vinegar 1:1 with water, and I blotted this on the burn. I cleaned the burn like this only once, and it was quite painful. I knew, though, that using the vinegar would kill any microbes I might have picked up from the muffler while also not disturbing the pH of my badly injured skin.
From there on out I used my homemade burn salve (recipe below) on the wound 3-4 times a day, covered with a non-stick gauze pad and wrapped loosely with an ACE bandage. I found that taping the gauze pad to my leg was completely ineffective. It would move or fall off within an hour or so, and it gave me little mobility. The ACE bandage allowed me to move the easiest.
The first several days of this treatment were definitely still painful, as it is simply painful to touch a fresh wound. As blood vessels regrew and healed, I felt each one sting and burn. I was, however, seeing a lot of skin regrowth. That was encouraging.
By day 4 I had to carefully use tweezers and toiletry scissors to remove some dead skin in order to allow the new skin to properly heal. At this time the more lightly burned areas had already changed color from bright red to brown, indicating that they were well along in the healing process.
For a week and a half I continued with this process: 3-4 times a day I changed the bandage and reapplied the salve, never wiping or cleaning the wound, nor leaving it open to the air for any significant period of time.
By then, I was able to use a wet washcloth (lukewarm water again) to gently slough off dead skin and scabs at one bandage changing each day. I saw great improvement daily by this point. The two spots that had been large and white on the day of the injury were healing and growing smaller and smaller. I felt much less pain, if any at all, and I was able to bend my knee with much greater ease.
At about 2 1/2 weeks out from the injury today, I can see that this burn is healing much quicker than my previous burn. I have been able to sleep without the wound covered up for three nights now (coating it with coconut oil for moisture before bed time). I hope to be bandage free by three weeks out, as well as nearly scar free by 5-6 weeks out.
I apologize for any excessive details about injuries in this post. I hope that someone finds it helpful for treating their own burn some day.
Without further ado, my homemade, natural burn salve recipe:
Natural Burn Salve
1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp pure aloe gel
1 tbsp coconut oil
5-10 drops lavender essential oil
Melt coconut oil if solid. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and store salve in a jar with a tightly secure lid. Will keep in a dry cabinet for a month or refrigerated for three months.