Myth: butter’s better on a burn

This photo is of one of Dr. Lai’s patients who burned his arm on a hot cookie sheet. The child stopped further injury by immediately running the area under cool water. However, his well meaning great aunt decided to then apply butter to the burn. Please, do NOT put butter immediately on a burn. It’s like putting butter on a hot skillet.

We’re not sure where the myth of putting butter on a burn comes from. A better idea for pain control, after applying cool water for a few minutes, is to offer the child a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

Burns caused by fire or burns covering large body areas are best treated at a hospital, but your first response, as you call 911, should be to get that burn in cool water. Run the water for several minutes. To avoid shock or extreme cold injury, do not use ice water. Don’t remove clothing stuck to skin but go ahead and put the burn and the stuck clothing in cool water.

Most burns sustained at home are mild or may cause blisters. Burns are easily infected because when you burn away skin, you burn away an excellent barrier to germs. Washing the affected area with soap and water and applying a topical antibiotic twice daily can prevent infection. Avoid popping blisters- you will take away a protective layer of skin.

Please remember that unlike for cookie batter, butter is not better for burns. Please pass this post on to anyone you know who cares for your children…it’s “hot off the press.” If you have suffered a burn and you feel that its not your fault, this is know as a tort and according to tort law you can make a claim. If you’re wondering ‘what is tort law‘? then there are plenty of legal firms who can help explain the rights you have to seek recovery from the culprit. There are loads of other law firms out there that you can use though, you just have to find the right one for you. This is incredibly easy for you to do, so don’t be worried if you think that you are unable to find a good law firm to help represent you in your case. If you are still struggling though, then you could take a look at someone like this personal injury attorney here. They will hopefully be able to help you get the compensation that you deserve, so it is very worthwhile doing if you were not at fault for the burn.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2011 Two Peds in a Pod®

Revised 5/17/2015

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