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Burns and scalds - What treatments work for minor burns and scalds?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

There are lots of different dressings for minor burns and scalds. No single dressing seems to work any better than the others. The most important thing is to keep your burn clean and covered with a dressing.

  • There are things you can do to limit the damage when you first get a burn. To read more, see First aid for minor burns and scalds.

  • Don't put any cream or ointment on your burn.

  • There are lots of different dressings for burns, although there's not much research to find out if one type works better than another. So we can't say if any dressings work best for helping a burn to heal.

  • You need a dressing that won't stick to your skin, so avoid cotton wool and other fluffy materials.

  • Paraffin gauze dressings are often used by doctors and nurses, because they are simple and seem to work well.

  • You can buy most dressings from a pharmacy without a prescription.

  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen can help the pain of minor burns.

You won't need to take antibiotic tablets or use antibiotic creams, unless your burn becomes infected.[12][13] If you think your burn is infected, you should see your doctor or nurse.

We've looked closely at the research into the different types of treatments for burns and scalds. We've given each treatment a rating, according to how well they work. But most types of dressing seem to work about as well as each other.

Treatments for minor burns and scalds

Treatments that need further study Treatments that are unlikely to work or may be harmful



These medicines are used to help your immune system fight infection. There are a number of different types of antibiotics that work in different ways to get rid of bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.


You get an infection when bacteria, a fungus, or a virus get into a part of your body where it shouldn't be. For example, an infection in your nose and airways causes the common cold. An infection in your skin can cause rashes such as athlete's foot. The organisms that cause infections are so tiny that you can't see them without a microscope.

For more terms related to Burns and scalds


For references related to Burns and scalds click here.
Last Updated: March 13, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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