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Burns are a form of damage that occurs when your skin comes into contact with intense heat. The heat source can be sunlight, fire, hot metal or chemical residue, but the damage remains the same. First-degree burns produce a redness of the skin, pain and (after a few days) peeling. Second-degree burns are more serious and cause your skin to blister in addition to turning red. The most serious condition is a third-degree burn; your skin will be white or charred and you probably won't feel any pain because you've suffered from nerve damage. The damaged skin needs to regenerate after a burn. Taking the proper precautions can help your skin heal more quickly.
Cool down a first- or second-degree burn in cool, but not ice-cold, water. The first step to helping the skin heal is to reduce the swelling. Soak the area for five to 15 minutes and pat dry with a lint-free towel so you won't get fabric fibers caught on your damaged skin.
Apply antibiotic ointment to the burned skin. Over-the-counter ointments are fine for first-degree burns; your doctor might prescribe a stronger formula for more serious burns. Preventing infection is a key factor in helping your damaged skin regenerate.
Bandage the burn with gauze, but wrap the area only loosely, as tight pressure on the damaged skin is going to hurt more. A gauze bandage, as opposed to a fluffy cotton bandage, allows your burn to heal more easily because the material won't stick to the skin.
Slather some honey on your burned skin before you close your bandage. The New Zealand Dermatological Society's Dermnet NZ resource explains that the viscosity---thickness---of the honey prevents the growth of bacteria in wounds. The combination of the honey and fluids that may seep from your burned skin produces hydrogen peroxide, protecting your skin from infection as it regenerates. Change your bandage daily, applying fresh honey each time.
Take some extra vitamin C while your burn is healing. Portugal's University of Leicester and Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology reported in 2009 that vitamin C, an antioxidant, activates genes in your skin cells that are responsible for skin regeneration. Most adults should get between 75 and 90 mg of vitamin C daily to remain healthy; ask your doctor how much more of the vitamin you should take for its skin-regeneration benefits.
If you believe you have suffered a third-degree burn, or if even a minor burn covers a large area of skin, seek emergency medical help.